Genetically altered mosquitoes to close gaps in malaria fight

M. Murigi,  People Daily,  2022.

In 2020, nearly 6.9 million cases of malaria and about 742 deaths were confirmed in Kenya according to the Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey (KMIS) 2020. Although the number of reported infections declined from 10.9 million in 2018, the disease is still one of the main health issues in the country despite being a largely preventable and treatable disease. Kenya is not the only country suffering from the burden of this life-threatening disease. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) latest world malaria report, there were an estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide in 2020. This represents about 14 million more cases in 2020 compared to 2019, and 69,000 more deaths. The high number of malaria cases continues to be registered even though several efforts have been put in place towards malaria eradication. It is for this reason scientists and researchers are assessing the use of new tools to edit the genes of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes as they try to come up with a long-lasting solution towards control and elimination of this disease. “The war against malaria has been ongoing for decades. It has led to the development of several interventions strategies, such as antimalarial drugs, insecticide-treated nets, and vaccines among others. However, despite all the interventions, the disease has not been eradicated because there are increased cases of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes, which pose a significant public health concern,” says Dr Willy Kiprotich Tonui, EBS, the Chairman and Executive Director at the Environmental Health Safety (EHS) Consultancy Limited who also doubles up as the Founder and Head of Secretariat to African Genetic Biocontrol Consortium.

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