Geneva – Vector control interventions, such as insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor spraying of homes with residual insecticides, are vital to the control and elimination of malaria. Their systematic use has played a huge role in averting hundreds of millions of malaria cases in the last 20 years.
Yet despite a remarkable track record, progress is threatened by many factors. Since 2010, resistance to at least one class of insecticide has been reported in sixty-one countries. Deploying new products is critical to mitigating resistance as well as finding the right mix of interventions to deliver greatest impact.
Residual malaria transmission by mosquitoes that elude bed nets and indoor spraying is an ongoing problem. Outdoor biting perpetuates disease transmission as these tools are unable to protect people when they are away from their homes.
Another growing threat is the invasion of Anopheles stephensi, a highly adaptable mosquito species that breeds easily in urban environments. The spread of the species, which is native to the Arabian Peninsula and South Asia, is occurring as rural poverty and climate change drive migration to cities, and could lead to an unprecedented surge in malaria cases.
In response, new tools are emerging with the potential to address some of the challenges we face. The WHO Vector Control Advisory Group (VCAG) is reviewing several new vector control products, which are currently undergoing epidemiological trials.
However, to enable their rapid adoption and scale-up, more evidence is needed on how best to deploy and integrate these tools within existing malaria control strategies. This information will be critical to informing how countries prioritize and tailor their choice of tools for different subnational transmission settings, particularly given resource constraints.
In addition, work is needed to build a viable market for these new products. Market readiness support to ensure an adequate supply base and sustainable pricing will be essential to success.
Recognizing the need for evidence generation and market shaping support, Unitaid is launching a call for proposals to build and catalyse the uptake of an expanded vector control toolbox to fight malaria in two target settings: (1) countries with a high malaria burden, and (2) countries where Anopheles stephensi is an emerging threat.
Find out more about the latest funding opportunity here.
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