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Insurance Article

Fighting Vector-borne Diseases: The Smart Way

November 16 2016
Fighting Vector-borne Diseases

Methods for the eradication of vector-borne diseases

Vector-borne diseases pose a serious threat to humanity. Every year, more than a billion people are infected and more than a million people die from them. More than half the world's population is at a risk of vector-borne diseases carried predominantly by mosquitoes, flies and other vectors.

The poorest population with lack of access to adequate housing, safe drinking water and sanitation is the worst affected, including those with malnourishment and weak immunity. Several national and state governments are collaborating with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eradicate them.

Some of the prominent methods adopted worldwide for the eradication of vector-borne diseases are:

Integrated Vector Management (IVM)

IVM is a rational decision-making process targeted at the optimal use of resources for controlling vectors and vector-borne diseases. Its goal is to improve the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and sustainability of the disease control mechanism.

The IVM framework involves 5 key elements, advocacy for public health, collaboration within the health sector, integration of different vector eradication methods, evidence-based decision making and development of adequate human resources.

Genetically engineered mosquitoes

Brazilian scientists are working in collaboration with a British insect control company to develop millions of factory-bred mosquitoes and release them into the wilderness. A plant is set in a town near Sao Paulo, which can produce 60 million mosquitoes in a week.

The offspring of these mosquitoes and the disease-causing females will have a shorter lifespan. Interestingly, these mosquitoes themselves will have a short lifespan and will die soon after mating.

Habitat and environment control

Removing or reducing vector breeding grounds will limit their growth. Removing stagnant waters, old cans, tires, etc., which serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies will reduce diseases in vector prone areas.

Open defecation also promotes the growth of vector-borne diseases. Preventing open defecation and timely maintenance of pit latrines will curb the growth of flies and the diseases spread by them via their contact with faecal matter of infected people.

Under the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, several cities have been declared Open-Defaecation Free (ODF). This landmark development towards cleanliness has led to the establishment of toilets all over the country, along with ensuring proper hygiene routines across schools and communities.

Chemical control

Insecticides and larvicides are great repellents that can be used to control vectors. They can be used in mosquito breeding zones and house walls. Besides, body repellents can be used to restrict bites and infection.

WHO also extensively promotes the use of larvicides and insecticides for vector control. Usage of chemicals to restrict vectors has proven to be highly effective so far.

Personal prophylactic measures

All of us must take preventive measures like vaccination, wear full sleeved shirts and long pants, cover exposed skin with repellents, check our bodies for bite marks, etc. if we live in or travel to a vector prone area.

We also need to spread the same information to remote areas and impart knowledge to villagers through televisions, radios, street shows and other mediums.

Strengthening health systems

For decades, several countries of the world have struggled to defeat vector-borne diseases. Climate change and evolution of new viruses have made the scenario worse. Countries with limited resources are battling to cope up with them.

Single disease-specific covers and comprehensive health insurance policies also help to cope up with vector-borne diseases. Governments must try to encompass masses under public health schemes and health insurance policies targeted at overall well-being.

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