Partnership work on vector control alternatives
Member States in the WHO European Region should reduce their reliance on the use of persistent insecticides, while strengthening national strategies based on sustainable and cost-effective alternatives for vector control to tackle vector-borne diseases (VBDs).
To pursue this goal, a regional project to demonstrate and scale up sustainable alternatives to DDT for the control of VBDs in the southern Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) and central Asia (Kyrgyzstan and Tajkistan) was been developed with financial and technical assistance from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), WHO/Europe, Milieukontakt International, the Green Cross (GC) and country governments. The project will become operational in 2010.
Countries in central Asia increasingly use alternatives to insecticides in the control of VBDs such as malaria. Several countries have significantly reduced reliance on insecticides (and thus DDT). In general, malaria cases have been reduced in recent years.
Nevertheless, central Asian countries increasingly face significant challenges in deploying these alternatives on a large scale, when several also face a resurgence of VBDs (mainly malaria). This considered to result partly from climate change but also reduced donor assistance, economic problems affecting national budgets and the absence of sustainable national strategies for VBD control. This situation is largely due to inadequate information on the applicability and cost–effectiveness of alternatives, and the lack of technical and financial resources.
As a result, countries lack adequate local capacity for in-depth evaluation of underlying driving forces of VBDs, analysis of the available alternatives and sound consideration of them in national policy. These limitations in turn frustrate efforts effectively to design and apply alternatives that are suitable to local environmental, agro-ecological, epidemiological and socioeconomic settings, and undermine a coherent and integrated approach to vector control.
Besides these limitations, current stocks of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) dating from many years ago are unofficially available to the general public through illegal repackaging of abandoned stocks and/or cross-border smuggling. Although official statistics do not show the use of DDT, environmental monitoring activities by government institutions in some countries in central Asia show its indiscriminate, mostly in agriculture but also disease control (typhus), resulting in increased health and environmental risks.
Building on countries’ efforts and with the support from WHO, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and other international organizations, this project aims to:
- demonstrate the applicability and cost–effectiveness of alternatives to DDT for vector control in the selected demonstration sites;
- develop national capacity for planning and implementation of vector control in the context of integrated vector management (IVM);
- identify and manage DDT stocks and wastes; and
- coordinate dissemination and sharing of experience among countries and regions concerned.
The partners assessed countries’ vector control needs to serve as a basis for determining the burden of VBDs, describing existing control strategies and programmes, identifying the best control approaches with reduced reliance on DDT and other insecticides, describing the relevant policy framework for vector control and identifying existing resources and future needs for control of VBDs. The assessments also give a basis for selecting demonstration sites, designing demonstration activities and collating baseline data for project monitoring and evaluation. Milieukontakt International and partners made similar needs assessments of the environmental and agricultural consequences of DDT wastes and stocks.
To mitigate the burden of VBDs and reduce reliance on POPs, the Member States in the WHO European Region have already introduced alternative tools and approaches to DDT and other insecticides. The project builds on countries’ and WHO’s efforts towards cost-effective and environmentally sound national vector control, which usually relies less on or should help to phase out pesticides such as DDT. The project will also safeguard at least 60 tonnes of DDT per country from easily accessible stockpiles, present measures to safeguard less accessible stockpiles and communicate the hazards of DDT to specific target groups.
The project will be the first project of this kind in central Asia involving collaboration between United Nations agencies, national governments and international and local nongovernmental organizations; it can give an example to neighbouring countries of how to manage POPs-containing pesticides, including the environmentally safe disposal of POPs-containing pesticide wastes.Finally, the project will support information dissemination in central Asia to make existing and new knowledge and experience known to other relevant partners. The work will include translating recent relevant publications into English, Russian and/or national languages as appropriate and distributing the translations among partners.