Morogoro — IFAKARA Health Institute (IHI) researchers in Kilombero District, Morogoro Region have started using drones to identify mosquito breeding sites which are hard to reach and kill them by spraying insecticides.
IHI Researcher Najath Kahamba revealed that on Saturday during a meeting which was attended by more than 350 participants and 51 district leaders from four councils of Ulanga, Ifakara Town, Mlimba and Malinyi.
The meeting was organised by IHI through its researchers, under Environmental Health and Ecology Science (EHES) Department in collaboration with St Francis Hospital in Ifakara through the heart and lung clinic.
He said there was a possibility for a mosquito to remember areas it once lived and be able to return to the area and continue to affect human beings.
Kahamba’s research is focused on Anopheles phonesta (stephensi) which is said to cause more the spread of Malaria.
He said the new technology will be used to spray mosquito pesticides in areas that will be found to be mosquito breeding sites.
The researcher said that IHI is currently training its experts who will guide the drones, and upon completion of the exercise of identifying mosquito breeding sites, they will start immediately carrying out the operation.
He said, according to scientific findings, there are more than 300 species of mosquitoes of which five of them are spreading Malaria in Africa, with three of five causing Malaria in Tanzania.
The researcher said the past researches were conducted using satellite images, making it difficult to identify some of them due to their small size thus failing to understand the behaviour of some mosquitoes.
Another researcher Issa Mshani said the research conducted in Kilombero valley found that the insects gather during the evening, saying the fight must also involve medicines for treating the disease and availability of Malaria vaccine.
He mentioned some of the techniques identified for controlling the mosquitoes as spraying pesticides in their breeding sites and placing pesticides on straps in the gap between the roofs and the walls of residential houses.
The expert said that another method is to wear shoes sprayed with pesticides to protect people from mosquito bites.
He said there have been several challenges of controlling the mosquitoes due to their behavioral changes.
According to the expert, although Malaria infection rate has been reported to decrease in recent years the World Health Organisation (WHO) report indicates that more than 600,000 deaths were reported in 2022 in the world.
He said the deaths were due to Malaria and 95 per cent of them occured in Sub Saharan countries.
According to the researcher, although the malaria disease is said to be diminishing, new strategies are still needed to combat it.
In November last year, Minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu and former United States Ambassador to Tanzania Dr Donald Wright took part in an event to celebrate five years of impact of malaria support from Okoa Maisha Dhibiti Malaria (“Save Lives End Malaria”) and Impact Malaria activities.
They also launched two new five- year activities worth 45 million US dollars under the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).
Statistics indicate that over 45 million people are at risk of malaria in Tanzania due to the climate and topography.