Pesticide-Free Screening for Reduction of Dengue Fever

A full grown mosquito emerges from its pupae stage in the Philippines. © 2013 Joel Forte/SLR Club, Courtesy of Photoshare

This project designs and conducts trials in Asia and Africa for the use of window and door screens to reduce the incidence of the mosquito-borne diseases of dengue and malaria. Half the world’s population is at risk of serious illness and death from these diseases, especially children under 5. With no vaccines and with anti-malaria drug resistance a recurring problem, environmental controls for malaria have focused on elimination of breeding sites in stagnant pools of water and on aggressive treatment after diagnosis. Pesticide-impregnated bed nets have been disseminated widely to protect against the night-time transmission of malaria (via Anopheles mosquito) and new pesticide-impregnated wall liners are even under review. GDS prefers non-pesticide methods and is developing the first trials of window and door screens in Asia.

Dengue is widespread in numerous countries. With no vaccine or adequate treatment for more serious cases, dengue poses a major health threat. Moreover, dengue mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and, to a lesser extent, A. albopictus) are day-feeding species necessitating alternative means to limit exposure in the home, school and workplace. Oddly, the use of the simplest and safest technology, window and door screens, is largely unknown in most developing countries and even the simplest technology is often hard to introduce. This project will seek to demonstrate their effectiveness in reducing the incidence of disease and mortality, as well as health care costs and lost productivity, and to establish micro- and small businesses to provide low-cost services of joiners and carpenters to measure and frame diverse and unevenly-shaped windows and doors and install and maintain screens. Laurence Simon. GDS Director, and Vinya Ariyaratne, GDS Researcher and General Secretary of Sarvodaya Shramadana in Sri Lanka, are the Principal Investigators.