The malaria node of The West African Network of Excellence for TB, AIDS and Malaria (WANETAM-2) organized the second entomology training workshop, for 30 participants, in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso from 19th to 31st August 2019. The workshop was hosted in collaboration with the Centre d’Excellence Africain en Innovations Biotechnologiques pour l’Élimination des Maladies à Transmission Vectorielle(CEA/ITECH-MTV) of Nazi BONI University in Burkina Faso.
The objective of the workshop was to train entomologists in West Africa on new techniques and technologies of tackling mosquitoes that are resistant to insecticides commonly used in long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINS), and indoor residual spraying (IRS). Participants were trained on traditional entomological techniques, malaria transmission, gene drive technology and how endosymbionts can be used to control malaria mosquitoes. The training involved theoretical and practical experience on how gene drive technology could be implemented and how to deal with the ethics of introducing genetically modified mosquitoes in communities.
Dr. Kevin Opondo, facilitator from the MRC Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said “WANETAM-2 has allowed us to build the necessary human capacity to respond to vector borne diseases. From the first training held in The Gambia in 2018, we have 3 participants who got scholarships for either PhD (1-Burkina Faso) or MSc (2-from The Gambia), with some developing proposals for the same. This year’s training is particularly important because it entailed new technologies like Gene Drive, and the training was taught both in French and English”.
Dr. Benoit Assogba of MRCG at LSHTM said “developing the necessary human capacity to support disease control programs, especially in malaria will be instrumental in the drive to eliminate malaria in Africa.” Musa Jawara, who has 35 years’ experience in entomology commented that “we seem to be heading in the right direction when African scientists lead the way in securing the future of vector borne disease control”.
Ebrimah Kolley, one of the participants from The Gambia said “the training broadened my understanding of Anopheles biology and how new techniques can be used to control malaria vectors. It boosted my confidence to proceed with the scholarship program I won, that seeks to use genetic tools to understand gene-flow patterns in Anopheles mosquitoes in The Gambia.’
The malaria node of WANETAM-2 is led by Prof Umberto D’Alessandro, and hosted at MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM.