Article written

Agricultural Keys to Malaria in African Highlands 0

Kampala (Uganda) – Sixty-five years after a major international summit here on malaria, the mosquito-borne disease remains a scourge and its incidence may even be rising in parts of sub-Saharan Africa due to the combined effects of climate change, agricultural practices and population displacement. Almost half the world’s population is deemed at risk of malaria, and an estimated 214 million people will contract it in 2015, with nearly half a million dying.

“Malaria is the number one public health problem in our country,” says Babria Babiler El-Sayed, director of Sudan’s Tropical Medicine Research Institute. Sudan has begun, with the assistance of FAO and the IAEA, to release sterilized male mosquitoes into the air in hopes that they crowd out their virile brethren and lead to reduced mosquito populations.

The Unite d Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) have used this “nuclear” technique with success against the lethal tsetse fly and the produce-destroying fruit fly. Malaria is a new area, and the two agencies are experimenting across East Africa with this so-called Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) of pest control.

And yet malaria is demonstrably preventable – and that is why it is explicitly named in Sustainable Development Goal No. 3 as something to be ended by 2030.

The key is not to rely on one method or tool but to develop integrated efforts to subdue the disease, notes El-Sayed.

That fits FAO’s broader approach. While working with the IAEA on the logistics and technology of SIT, field officers emphasize the need to integrate agricultural practices ranging from crop selection, tilling technique, water use and even rural home locations.

It’s a shift from 1950, when a World Health Organization conference held in Kampala resolved to support the intensive use of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) to eradicate the disease. As was learned the hard way, even such a potent chemical cannot on its own sustainably solve the problem. Indeed, in the emblematic case of the Tennessee Valley in the United States, it was a mass anti-poverty campaign coupled with a huge hydroelectric public-works program that led to the rapid demise of malaria without the use of chemicals in the 1930s.

Continue reading on Ips Africa

By Mzizi Kabiba

subscribe to comments RSS

Comments are closed

P.IVA 11273390150
Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi