In August 2017, the World Mosquito Program announced a new partnership with the Fijian, Vanuatu and Kiribati health authorities to pilot an innovative approach to protecting people from mosquito-borne diseases. The partnership is funded and supported by the Australian Government’s innovationXchange.
Due to the prevalence of mosquitoes in tropical and sub-tropical areas, there is a long history of mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya in the Pacific. In the past few years alone, there has been 30,000 suspected cases of dengue in Fiji, Vanuatu and Kiribati. The Western Pacific region is the second most affected region after the Americas, with 13 countries reporting cases of Zika in 2016.
The World Mosquito Program’s approach works by releasing Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes into a community. Wolbachia is a safe and natural bacteria found in up to 60% of all insect species, which means that it is already present in Kiribati, Fiji and Vanuatu. The Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes then breed with local mosquitoes and pass the bacteria to their offspring. Over time, these Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes help to block the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases.
The cornerstone of our approach is community support and participation. Over the coming months, the WMP will work together with local communities to improve the lives of those at risk of mosquito-borne diseases in the Pacific.
The World Mosquito Program, known until recently as Eliminate Dengue: Our Challenge, is currently operating in 10 countries around the world. Our method has been deployed in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Colombia and Brazil with no locally acquired dengue cases in areas where Wolbachia has been established.
Find out more about what we do.