Dengue control support through eco-bio-social approach

TDR news item
20 February 2013

A new environmental and community approach to reducing the numbers of mosquitoes that carry dengue has been detailed in a supplement of 8 new research articles published in Pathogens and Global Health. Six research institutions in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand have shown that working with communities and other partners led to a range of effective solutions that used fewer pesticides and were customized to that region’s needs.

The research, carried out between 2006 and 2011, was supported by a research and capacity building partnership between TDR and the Ecosystem and Human Health Program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Dengue is the fastest growing viral disease caused by mosquitoes and is a significant economic and social burden in many countries worldwide. It is mostly transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which breeds in water containers in and around homes, so it is closely affected by environmental factors linked to human behavior.

The research looked at a completely different approach to what is currently in place in many countries – that of government services routinely killing mosquito larvae with larvicides, and spraying insecticides in neighborhoods with reported dengue cases. The research investigated a community-driven approach that included education and an environmental approach of avoiding pesticides. Socially and culturally appropriate health education materials were developed and used by various community groups (women’s groups, students, new volunteer groups for environmental health). Insecticide treated screens were put over windows and covers placed on the most problematic containers. As a consequence, fewer insecticides were used in the communities and people from both public and private sectors worked together to agree on what worked best in their areas. The programmes also led to the formation of community groups and other public and private partners with broad environmental hygiene and sanitation interests.

The evidence suggests that the integrated vector management approach would be more sustainable when it complements or replaces other interventions by:

  • involving diverse partners, including local communities;
  • targeting water containers that produce most of the mosquito larvae for interventions; and
  • utilizing new non-insecticidal intervention tools (such as rectangular water container covers in India, sweeping nets or dragon fly nymphs in Myanmar, and copepods and screen covers for earthen jars in Thailand).

For more information, please contact

Dr Johannes Sommerfeld
Telephone: +41 22 79 13954

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