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Defeating malaria: IAEA and IDB support Sudan’s implementation of SIT

Mosquito

Forest fever, ague, paludism-the many names and legacies associated with malaria attest to the viciousness of the disease.  From King Tut to Mother Teresa, malaria's trail of victims stretches across centuries, and continues to claim the lives of patients each year. Although there are approximately 200 million cases annually, the burden of malaria-related morbidity is falling around the world, including in Sudan, where an ongoing technical cooperation (TC) project1 aims to introduce the sterile insect technique (SIT) in a bid to suppress mosquito populations.  

Malaria represents an important public health issue in Sudan-among hospitals and health clinics in the country's northernmost regions, malaria is among the most commonly diagnosed and treated diseases. Like the boy-pharaoh of Egypt, most patients succumb to the disease as a result of their proximity to the Nile River, which provides the ideal habitat for Anopheles Arabiensis, the local species of mosquito. Whereas medication and the application of insecticides have had prior success in reducing malaria's mortality, the growing resistance of the parasite to drug treatment calls for a new approach.

Given the success of SIT in the eradication of moths, screwworms, tsetse and fruit flies, the Government of Sudan has resolved to develop the relevant capacities in order to suppress the population of malarial mosquitoes. With the cooperation and support of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the IAEA is implementing a series of phased projects through its Technical Cooperation Programme.

The first, ongoing project will establish the feasibility of SIT as a control tactic for area-wide, integrated mosquito management. By collecting baseline data from larvae breeding sites, conducting genetics studies, and examining the behaviour of sterilized and native mosquitoes, IAEA experts and their counterparts can determine the suitability of this approach in the context which Sudan provides.

In order to effectively conduct these analyses, capacity building efforts have been at the core of the project. Four expert missions have already been completed, with an additional nine pending, all of which provide detailed guidance in mass-rearing and sterilizing captured mosquitos. Additionally, three IAEA Fellows have been trained in similar techniques, both at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna and in Brazil.

The second phase of this endeavour will involve the procurement of capital goods, including a mass-rearing facility, and further training. Reflecting its commitment to regional development, the IDB will support the project logistically and financially.

A coordination meeting was held from 10-12 March at the IAEA's Vienna headquarters, and will be attended by delegates of the Government of Sudan, the Islamic Development Bank, as well as IAEA experts. The meeting aims to review the accomplishments and obstacles thus far encountered during the implementation of the project, and to lay the foundation for Phase II. 

Malaria is not a new challenge-across its history, few regions of the world have been insulated from the disease's effects. But inspiring progress has been made in recent decades. The introduction of effective control measures has already reduced the mortality of malaria by 54% in the African region, according to the World Health Organization.

With the support of our international partners, and the commitment of our Member States, we're in a position to drastically reduce the burden malaria represents and to conclude humanity's millennia-long association with the parasite. 

1 SUD/5/034

 

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