Ecologists can enable communities to implement malaria vector control in Africa
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Integrated vector management (IVM) for malaria control requires ecological skills that are very scarce and rarely applied in Africa today. Partnerships between communities and academic ecologists can address this capacity deficit, modernize the evidence base for such approaches and enable future scale up. Methods Community-based IVM programmes were initiated in two contrasting settings. On Rusinga Island, Western Kenya, community outreach to a marginalized rural community was achieved by University of Nairobi through a community-based organization. In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Ilala Municipality established an IVM programme at grassroots level, which was subsequently upgraded and expanded into a pilot scale Urban Malaria Control Programme with support from national academic institutes. Results Both programmes now access relevant expertise, funding and policy makers while the academic partners benefit from direct experience of community-based implementation and operational research opportunities. The communities now access up-to-date malaria-related knowledge and skills for translation into local action. Similarly, the academic partners have acquired better understanding of community needs and how to address them. Conclusion Until sufficient evidence is provided, community-based IVM remains an operational research activity. Researchers can never directly support every community in Africa so community-based IVM strategies and tactics will need to be incorporated into undergraduate teaching programmes to generate sufficient numbers of practitioners for national scale programmes. Academic ecologists at African institutions are uniquely positioned to enable the application of practical environmental and entomological skills for malaria control by communities at grassroots level and should be supported to fulfil this neglected role.
CitationMalar J. 2006; 5: 9.
Department of Zoology