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News from the ‘ISNTD Bites’ meeting on vector control

| June 14, 2013
Professor David Rollinson talking about schistosomiasis control

Professor David Rollinson talking about schistosomiasis control

The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ISNTD) is a new, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to a multidisciplinary approach to a set of diseases that have traditionally ranked low down in terms of public health priorities but nevertheless impair the lives of an estimated 1 billion people. The World Health Organisation recognises 17 NTDs, many of which are on the decline, such as leprosy and guinea-worm disease but others, such as dengue, are resurgent.

The ISNTD is presenting a series of one day meetings focusing on different aspects of the management and control of these diseases, including medical, epidemiological and environmental aspects. The topic of the last meeting, ‘ISNTD Bites’, held in the Natural History Museum in London on 17th October, was the control of the vectors of this group of diseases.

The attendees at the event were mainly UK based specialists in medical parasitology, but with key overseas participants in attendance as well. In addition representatives of private companies and government bodies were also present.

Marianne Comparet, Head of ISNTD, chaired the event and Professor David Rollinson, of the Natural History Museum, gave the opening address in which he emphasised the tremendous opportunity to eradicate 10 of the NTDs by the end of the decade and the need for intensified case management, preventative chemotherapy and control of transmission.

The work sessions focused on:

Session 1: Solutions and emerging challenges in vector control: GM mosquitoes, veterinary treatment, integrated vector management, insecticide treated materials, insecticide resistance.

Session 2: Governance and policy: challenges to successful vector management and towards strong local leadership.

Session 3: Impact of climate change on NTDs: shifting the boundaries? The role of climate in changes in prevalence of vectors and incidence of disease in non-endemic regions.

In each session three or four experts first presented case studies and these were followed by a panel discussion including questions and comments from the audience. ISNTD are to be congratulated on the format which worked well and resulted in several interesting debates.

One question that emerged was how to encourage the rapid adoption of effective new technologies for vector control and what were the barriers to enabling this to happen. Hadyn Parry, of the Sterile Insect Technique GM company Oxitec, argued for the need for a more supportive policy environment for the adoption of new technologies. Jo Lines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine gave the example of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) for malaria prevention, which moved from being niche products to mass implementation once the WHO formally recognised their benefit and this recognition was based on trials that demonstrated they saved lives. He also mentioned the WHO Vector Control Advisory Group which has recently been set up to consider new technologies. Professor Graham Matthews of Imperial College mentioned that the WHO is pushing to look at interventions other than Indoor Residual Spraying and ITNs but he argued that more funding and support should be allocated to evaluate integrated vector management programmes incorporating existing cultural, chemical and biological approaches.

Another interesting panel discussion surrounded the importance of climate change in increasing vector abundance and the risks of vector-borne disease, with the climate specialist Dr Cyril Caminade of the University of Liverpool arguing for its importance and some entomologists on the panel and in the audience asserting that there were other more important factors contributing to geographical spread, such as the movement of tyres harbouring Aedes species and the reduction in some vector control programmes.

The audience reaction to the event was positive. Eva Veronesi, a researcher at the Pirbright Institute, summed this up as follows: “I hope in the future there will be more meetings like that. I really liked the fact that there was a lot of space for debate: it is very important and useful to get the points from different experiences and people. Moreover, the spirit of this meeting was not only to provide knowledge on different subjects but also to discuss together the practicality of possible solutions to global problems.”

Published in International Pest Control – January/February 2013 issue.

Author: Dr Julian Entwistle.
Xenex Associates Ltd. julian@xenexassociates.com

 

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Category: News, Public health

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