Malaria Entomology Revitalized in Zambia

Apr 2010
The Ministry of Health, with support from PMI and others, is building entomologic capability to support vector control measures.
Mosquitoes readied for dissection. Source: Melinda Ojermark/HSSP

A successful vector control program needs to do more than just spray houses and distribute mosquito nets. It must also have the ability to monitor mosquito populations and their response to vector control measures. The field of malaria entomology was in decline in Zambia for many years, but it attracted renewed interest owing to increased investment in malaria control efforts and interest in malaria elimination. The Ministry of Health, with support from PMI and others, is building entomologic capability to support vector control measures. "In former times, we had entomology technicians in the district who carried out local surveys," reminisces Dr. Cecilia Shinondo, Senior Entomologist and Malaria Specialist for the PMI-supported Health Systems Strengthening Project. "Today these categories of staff have virtually disappeared, but we are rebuilding capacity in entomology by training university students and district environmental health staff."

Dr. Cecilia Shinondo, assisted by insectary technician Idan Emmanuel Chabu, identifies mosquito species under a microscope. Source: Melinda Ojermark/HSSPThe National Malaria Control Center's insectary for rearing mosquitoes was recently refurbished with support from PMI. The insectary's small laboratory is now a center of activity, where students learn to identify and analyze mosquitoes (including dissections) to determine if they carry malaria parasites and changes in population survivorship to monitor the effectiveness of vector control programs. Heaters whirr, and a humidifier emits a steamy vapor. Small mesh cages filled with live adult mosquitoes line the shelves, and water-filled dishes in orderly rows contain larvae and pupae. The goal is to establish a colony of mosquitoes that will be used for training and to monitor the quality and duration of insecticides used in IRS and for ITNs and as a control group for insecticide resistance studies routinely conducted before and after the IRS programs. The painstaking work is paying off, and soon the insectary will have sufficient stock to support training and quality control monitoring for Zambia's vector control programs.

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