Burkina Faso Testing Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Curb Malaria

H. Wilkins,  Voice of America,  2021.

The mosquito-borne disease malaria kills more than 400,000 people each year, the vast majority in Africa. Target Malaria, an international group of scientists, is working in Burkina Faso on a genetic solution. Abdoulaye Diabate, with the West African country’s Research Institute for Science and Health, said the objective of Target Malaria is to develop a genetic control tool specifically applied to mosquitoes to be able to drastically reduce or eliminate the density of mosquitoes.  The scientists are genetically modifying mosquitoes so their offspring will be only male, and any females they mate with after release will also produce just males. Since only female mosquitoes spread malaria, the disease should drop off quickly along with their population. In village of Bana, where the genetically modified mosquitoes were first tested in 2019, locals were initially worried about the experiment. Kiesiara Sanou, a Bana village elder, said that at the beginning, people thought the survey would release mosquitoes in the village that could cause more diseases. But since working with Target Malaria, they’ve come to understand exactly what the purpose is and now even help them with tasks like collecting the mosquitoes. Genetically modified mosquitoes are just one malaria solution that has been tested in Burkina Faso. The country also pioneered pesticide-infused mosquito nets.

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