WMP in the Fiji region

World Mosquito Program lab technician Sala Vuase collecting mosquito larvae inside their lab at Mataika House in Tamavua, Suva. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

WORLD Mosquito Program (WMP) manager Pacific Geoff Wilson says the program operates in 12 countries around the world with three countries chosen in the region.

Mr Wilson said in the Pacific, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Fiji were chosen and funded by the Australia Government through innovation exchange program which amounted to about $A7.7 million ($F11.9m).

“Each country has a pilot project concentrating on the high dengue impact areas which have a known history. Each country will have a different cost and work plan,” Mr Wilson said.

He said the amount of funding they chose depended on the sites to start with and hopefully the effectiveness of the program might lead to further funding.

“Once we start with the release of mosquitoes with Wolbachia, we will be monitoring the local population for the presence of Wolbachia from the start of the release.

When the releases finish, we will still continue this monitoring to check whether Wolbachia was staying at high levels,” he said.

“The expected results from the project would vary. It’s hard to say. Each country is different but we expect to see a steady increase of Wolbachia in the wild population for the duration of the release. But the most important thing is that once we establish Wolbachia, we expect to see a marked reduction in the transmission of diseases. “One of the advantages of Wolbachia method is that it has a long term sustainable benefit. So we release mosquitoes for a set period of time, but the benefits, the reduction in that transmission of diseases will be ongoing. “There is health benefits to the people and also the economic benefits to the Government,” he said.

According to WMP Fiji, in 2017, there were over 3000 confirmed cases of dengue in Fiji.

More Stories