World Mosquito Program: 2018 highlights
The World Mosquito Program (WMP) is celebrating another successful year protecting the global community from mosquito-borne diseases. Over the last 12 months, we have established partnerships in two new countries, released mosquitoes in multiple sites across the Pacific, and proven that our Wolbachia method is successful when deployed at a city-wide scale – to name a few achievements!
As 2018 draws to a close, we would like to share some of our highlights with you.
We’re proud to announce that two new countries have joined the WMP: New Caledonia became the fourth country in the Pacific to commence a project, and we established a partnership with the Baja California Sur Health authorities to begin our first project in Mexico.
The WMP has continued to receive support from governments, research institutes, and philanthropic and corporate partners. This included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust awarding an additional AUD$50 million towards the program, and the New Zealand government contributing AUD$2.5 million to expand our project into Western Fiji.
In addition to international funding, we received recognition from the Australian Government for our contribution towards the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs aim to ‘end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all’. While our work supports many of the SDGs, it primarily contributes to SDG #3: Good Health & Well-being, in particular Target 3.3: Fight Communicable Diseases.
Community involvement and participation
Community acceptance and involvement are crucial to our work as a public health initiative. Local community leaders ran workshops to provide essential health information and spread the word about the WMP’s innovative Wolbachia method. Watch the stories from community leaders who helped to disseminate information and answer questions about the implementation of our Wolbachia method in Colombia.
The WMP encourages residents to join in the releases, whether they are helping to hatch and rear mosquitoes from scratch, or participate in adult releases. With the support and assistance of local communities, we commenced releases of Wolbachia carrying mosquitos in three Pacific countries this year: Vanuatu, Fiji and Kiribati. Mosquito releases have also commenced on mainland Vietnam.
In Brazil, students are supporting the program with a celebratory song and dance, while our Community Engagement team began implementing a new project for schools. A collaboration between the WMP and the Municipal Department of Education of Rio de Janeiro, the project is seeing staff share methods of disease control and prevention with students in areas affected by dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.
This year we celebrated the publication of the first research paper demonstrating that our innovative Wolbachia method can be deployed cost-effectively at a citywide scale. The research shows that there has been no locally transmitted dengue in the northern Australian city of Townsville over the last four rainy seasons, since Wolbachia was established in the targeted release areas. This is a fantastic result for the WMP and we are continuing to conduct further research projects to understand the efficacy of our method.
Following the success of the Townsville project, our approach has continued in Queensland. Two new projects led by local health authorities are now underway in Ingham and the Northern Peninsula Area.
Our initial trials in Yogyakarta have also produced encouraging results. Following the trials, we commenced a large-scale efficacy study to evaluate the impact of our Wolbachia method on dengue transmission. The project team is working closely with government, health authorities, and local communities to undertake the study, which is the first of its kind conducted globally.
There are many successes to celebrate this year, each of which would not be achievable without the tireless efforts of our staff, partners and research collaborators around the world. We would like to take the opportunity to thank you for the contributions you have made and for helping us continue to implement our global public health intervention.