The transboundary nature of disease transmitting mosquitos is increasing global public health concerns and addressing this requires strategic regional approaches to decrease the rapid spread of diseases. NEPAD Agency is leading the process of developing preliminary regional regulatory approaches in West Africa to control mosquitoes of the genus Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus that are responsible for the transmission of arboviruses that cause Yellow fever, Chikungunya, Zika virus, Dengue, Malaria and Rift Valley Fever.
Building on best practices from a recent study tour to Brazil and Colombia organized by the NEPAD Agency and Danforth Centre, regulators from four West African countries namely Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal, and Mali are meeting from 05 – 08 June 2017 together with regulators from Uganda to discuss experiences from the study tour and identify approaches that can be adopted for a regional programme on regulatory strengthening. The study tour made it possible for the regulators to gain practical exposures to integrated disease transmitting mosquito control programs in those countries and understand their regulatory requirements and processes, as well as assess their effectiveness.
The regulators meeting is strategically focussing on discussing technology development and transfer, regulatory capacity strengthening, inter-sectoral collaboration, south-south collaboration, advocacy and policy articulation, community engagement, and leveraging political will and commitment. These discussions are key to achieving regional harmonisation in disease control activities.
The CEO of the National Biosafety Authority of Ghana, Mr Eric Okoree, in his opening remarks, lauded the efforts of the NEPAD Agency and its partners in spearheading such discussions at regional level and reiterated the commitment of his authority in ensuring that disease vectors are effectively controlled in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region and on the continent as a whole.
Head of Industrialization, Science, Technology and Innovation (ISTI) at the NEPAD Agency, Prof. Aggrey Ambali welcomed the participants and expressed the hope that this effort would be accepted not as a foreign intervention but one initiated and implemented by the continent in response to addressing its health issues and ensuring Africa achieves its aspiration of eliminating malaria by 2030.
In 2015, WHO reports that there were 212 million new cases of malaria worldwide with 90 % occurring in Africa. A study published in 2013 estimated that 390 million dengue virus infections occurred throughout the tropics in 2010 and 16% of those infections were from Africa - even though the disease is not often recognised as a risk. The Zika virus has also been isolated in Africa in mosquitoes and humans and it has been estimated that over 16 African countries are at high risk of the disease. Forty-seven countries in Africa are reportedly either endemic for or have regions that are endemic for, yellow fever. These disease burdens call for an integrated disease transmitters control approach that can be effective at regional levels.