African regulators and heads of research institutions participated in a successful study tour of genetically modified mosquito release sites in Brazil and Colombia to learn best practices that will contribute to improved regulatory work on vector control in Africa. Malaria still remains one of the top five leading causes of death in Africa and limiting or eradicating the malaria carrying mosquitos (vector control) using genetically modified techniques is one of the methods that contributes to rolling-back the burden of the disease on the continent.
The study tour participants visited mosquito containment facilities in “Eliminate Dengue” in Medellin, Colombia and “Oxitec” in Piracicaba, Brazil where they were exposed to the insectaries and witnessed the release of genetically modified mosquitoes used in vector control in selected communities. The participants also witnessed community engagement activities and the release of Wolbachia mosquitos under the Eliminate Dengue project.
NEPAD Agency’s Head of African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), Dr. Jeremy Ouedraogo, who led the team, emphasized the importance of such study tours for capacity building as they expose African regulators to vector control interventions carried out in other parts of the world. He said that such study tours also build the capacity of African regulators and research institutions to regulate these technologies and be better able to handle applications they receive for similar research in Africa.
Participants of this study tour included heads of the national biosafety agencies of Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda. The team also included the director of l'Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé as well as the director of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique - all based in Burkina Faso.