ZIMBABWE – The AFRO II Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), suggests that house screening may be an effective non-chemical-based innovation for vector control with the potential to significantly reduce the number of mosquitoes entering houses in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is harnessing innovation for malaria elimination as an additional intervention at a time when malaria remains a public health threat in the country, with more than half the population at risk of contracting malaria annually.
Funded through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO-AFRO), the AFRO II Project is currently being implemented in six southern African countries in the WHO AFRO region including Zimbabwe.
WHO pointed out that the Afro II project study in Zimbabwe covers Monyoroka Resettlement area and Triangle in Chiredzi District, Masvingo Province while noting that it remains necessary to quantify the impact house screening has in malaria prevention and reduction effect in different countries.
House screening involves the screening of houses by installing wire mesh screens on windows, doors, eaves, and other openings to prevent the entry of mosquitoes.
Results from the AFRO II Project are expected to assist in overcoming challenges such as reliance on chemical-based malaria vector interventions that are prone to resistance.
In addition, house screening was successfully tried in the Gambia and Tanzania and found to significantly reduce malaria transmission, environmentally friendly and not prone to development of mosquito resistance.
Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), with support from WHO has conducted household enumeration, malaria knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) survey as well as insecticide susceptibility mapping within the targeted community in the project district.
WHO highlights that the KAP survey conducted in May 2021 was aimed at assessing the local community`s awareness and appreciation of malaria specifically the disease, causes, transmission, vectors, current interventions and treatment.
According to WHO, Zimbabwe has adopted several chemical-based vector control measures to reduce malaria but there has been growing evidence of resistance to chemical-based malaria vector interventions.
WHO highlights that the project supports the implementation of the UNEP roadmap for development of alternatives to DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) as endorsed by the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP7) to the Stockholm Convention in May 2015.
Moreover, the objective of the road map is to make locally safe, effective, affordable, and environmentally sound alternatives available for a sustainable transition away from DDT.
Zimbabwe is among the six southern African countries where should the Afro II project study succeed, the region will can add house screening as an additional environment friendly option to existing malaria prevention and control mechanisms.
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