Eliminate Dengue global program expands to partner with India

On 7 February 2016, the Eliminate Dengue Program announced a new project to combat dengue and other mosquito-borne viruses in India. The public health burden of dengue in India is among the highest in the world, with communities and local health systems facing recurring outbreaks. 

The new partnership between the Eliminate Dengue Program and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) aims to find a sustainable solution to this ongoing problem. Since 2011, field trials using the program's unique Wolbachia method have shown that when a high proportion of mosquitoes in an area carry Wolbachia bacteria, local transmission of dengue is stopped. 
 
At a signing ceremony in New Delhi, Program Lead Professor Scott O’Neill praised the partnership as an important opportunity to help communities in need. “We’re very pleased to collaborate with the highly respected ICMR to bring this research to India. The disease burden in India is considerable and like many countries, India faces an extraordinary challenge with current forms of control unable to stop the spread of these viruses,” said Professor O’Neill. 

India is the sixth country to join the non-for-profit, global health initiative which is already being implemented in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and Vietnam. According to Professor O'Neill, the growth of the program highlights the need for affordable, long-term solutions to combat the threat of mosquito-borne viruses. “Our natural, self-sustaining method removes the need for governments to find ongoing funding for expensive vector control strategies as we currently work towards a deployment model in large urban settings that only costs one US dollar per person,” Professor O’Neill said.
 
An initial research phase will be conducted at the ICMR’s Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) in Puducherry, South India, with laboratory studies to examine the impact of Wolbachia on dengue and chikungunya viruses in India.