- by breakdengue

Outwitting vector-borne diseases

ThinkstockPhotos-152127228Dengue is spreading fast

It’s clear we have to do more – and soon. But how can we when resources are already stretched beyond the limit? When we’re also fighting malaria, chikungunya, and a whole wealth of other vector-borne diseases?

To shake away these diseases we’re going to have to outsmart them. We’re going to have to take whatever tools we have and target them where they’ll have the greatest impact on all of them.

A plan of action

To make this work we’ll need a plan of action, and a clear picture of what diseases and vectors needed to be tackled and where.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has just the plan. Known as Integrated Vector Management (IVM), it’s a completely new approach to vector control that will help countries use the tools and resources they have at their disposal to tackle multiple diseases simultaneously.

Take for example insecticide-treated nets. Have you ever considered how they do more than just protect against malarial vectors? They also provide protection from dengue and a host of other vector-borne diseases. They’re just one small example of protecting people against a number of vector-borne diseases in one fell swoop. Smart, right?

But IVM isn’t just about using one tool to combat multiple diseases; it’s also about using multiple tools and resources against each vector and disease. It shows how, by sharing resources and expertise, the health, agricultural, and education sectors can control vectors more effectively.

A toolkit to guide you through

IVM transforms traditional vector control. It makes it more evidence-based, more integrated and more participative. It will lead to changes in roles and responsibilities as the health sector and local government build new links with other sectors and local communities. In essence, it requires a very different way of working and a different way of thinking, and that isn’t always easy.

So, to help, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding a collaboration between WHO and Durham University to produce a series of IVM toolkits. These practical guidebooks – there will be one focused on the sub-Sahara and Africa, one on the Americas, and one on Asia – will provide the detailed information countries need to plan and implement IVM in their own specific situation.

The toolkits aren’t quite ready yet, but they will be ready for next year (they’re due to be published by the first quarter of 2016). They’ll include everything from suggestions on setting up organizational structures for deciding who does what among the public and private sector and community organizations to maps of where up to 10 different vector-borne diseases and their vectors are present. They’ll also explain which tools are effective in the control of each vector.

And there’s more. The toolkits will also help with vector surveillance and monitoring disease progression, which, in turn, will help countries measure the effectiveness of IVM.

Communities are the key to IVM success

ThinkstockPhotos-470801532Health, education, and government organizations will struggle to maximize IVM’s value if they don’t work with the support of local people. In fact, communities play some of the most crucial roles in IVM, by helping identify where the vectors are and the impact they’re having.

If applied with a collaborative and widespread approach, WHO believes IVM will improve outcomes and save lives. With governments, organizations and communities working together, do you think we can outsmart vector-borne diseases? Share your thoughts with us and join the Dengue Tribe!