IAEA's Work Supports Fight Against Malaria
The IAEA's researh laboratories at Seibersdorf near Vienna are home to scientists from around the world working in such areas as pest control, plant breeding, and environmental monitoring. (Credit: D. Calma/IAEA)
Recent press reports have spotlighted the IAEA's work supporting the world's fight against malaria, still among the world's biggest health threats. Scientists at the Agency's research laboratories near Vienna are targeting the mosquito that transmits the disease.
Press stories by Reuters and the magazine Der Spiegel in Germany reported on an IAEA project to apply a radiation-based method - called the "sterile insect technique" - to control malaria mosquitoes. The reports focus on work being done at the entomology unit of the IAEA Seibersdorf Laboratories, and includes interviews with Agency scientists Bart Knols and Alan Robinson at the Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratory jointly run by the IAEA and UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The technique has a long track record against health-threatening insects, including the tsetse fly that transmits sleeping sickness, and has been used in El Salvador against mosquitoes transmitting malaria. The IAEA multi-year project is designed to support national, regional and global efforts, including those of the World Health Organization, to combat the disease. Up to 500 million cases of malaria are clinically diagnosed each year, and as many as 3000 people die each day from the disease in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. The global aim is to cut the burden of malaria in half by the end of this decade.