Malaria vector control experts from Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe convened at the Happy Valley Hotel in the Kingdom of Eswatini for the first regional coordination and steering committee meeting on the Integrated Vector Management (IVM) also known as AFROII project. The meeting organised by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) and supported by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) took place at the Happy Valley Hotel from on 10 to 13 April 2018. The main objective of the meeting was to assess the progress in implementation of the planned project activities for the period 2017-2018 malaria season, and further produce work plans that will expedite implementation of activities for the period 2018 to 2019.
The project is on demonstration of effectiveness of diversified, environmentally sound and sustainable interventions, and strengthening national capacity for innovative implementation of integrated vector management (IVM) for disease prevention and control in the WHO Africa Region. Emphasis is laid on identifying environmentally sound and effective alternatives to Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) for vector control especially mosquitos in a view of the increased vector resistance leading to ineffectiveness of insecticides. DDT is currently listed in Annex B to the Stockholm Convention with its production and/or use restricted for disease vector control purposes in accordance with related World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and guidelines.
The project is being implemented in seven Tier 1 countries (Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) that are still using DDT. The project also includes Tier 2 countries (Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda) that are not using DDT, to benefit from IVM capacity building activities at regional level and be kept informed on outcomes of the project. In implementing this project some countries are focusing on housing improvement (Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia) while others – Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia are focusing on winter larviciding.
During the meeting it was noted that countries in the region have come a long way in increasing the use of the two major vector control interventions - indoor residual spraying (IRS) of insecticides and the use of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) for malaria control. The African region reduced malaria incidence by 42% and mortality rate by 66% between 2000 and 2015, as a result of the expanded use of cost effective prevention and case management services. However progress has stalled since 2017. Reliance on the two vector control interventions - IRS and ITNs, and insecticide resistance of the vectors are among the serious challenges malaria programmes face today in their quests to maintain the success and further progress. This therefore calls for implementation of diversified, environmentally sound, sustainable and innovative interventions for integrated vector management (IVM).
During the meeting it was noted that the successful implementation of the project requires strong leadership and coordination of all stakeholders in malaria control and elimination. Countries were advised to coordinate and seek collaboration with relevant sectors and national agencies for synergy, and to ensure integration of project components into the relevant activities of the National Malaria Programmes (NMP) towards successful and timely delivery of expected output. In order to properly and adequately coordinate and manage the project national coordinators were therefore recruited who are adequately supervised by and are accountable to the respective NMPs as much as they are to the World Health Organization, in line with their terms of reference.