Knowledge is Power

AIRS Builds Nigeria’s Capacity in Entomological Monitoring, Reinvigorating Country’s Fight against Malaria

Entomology technicians change a CDC light trap.

Entomology technicians change a CDC light trap.

Malaria is the number one killer of children under five in Africa. In Nigeria, 97 percent of the country’s population of 172 million is at risk of being infected with this disease. The country contributes to 23 percent of the world’s malaria cases and accounts for more malaria-related deaths than any other country in the world. Understanding the behavior of malaria-carrying mosquitoes and knowing how they respond to the insecticides used in vector control are essential components to fighting malaria. Nigeria’s National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP) has long faced a lack of adequate information needed to make informed decisions for successful integrated vector management. NMEP recognized the importance of establishing sites across the country for entomological monitoring and surveillance to study malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Yet vital resources, such as trained personnel, equipment and materials, appropriate database technology and a coordinating mechanism for achieving the country’s important malaria elimination objective, were severely limited.

“For the first time in Nigeria, we have a project [AIRS] that has supported the National Malaria Program in establishing trends for malaria vector surveillance, built capacity for state and national malaria vector officers, and piloted the establishment of a first ever harmonized Integrated Vector Management document.”

— Dr. Joel Akilah
Head, IVM Branch
National Malaria Elimination Program, Nigeria

In 2014, the PMI’s Africa Indoor Residual Spraying (AIRS) Project began supporting the NMEP to build their capacity for entomological monitoring. The AIRS Project, funded through USAID, assisted the NMEP in establishing six mosquito surveillance sites in Nigeria. The sites are located in Lagos, Rivers, Enugu, Nasarawa, Plateau, and Jigawa States. Partnering with research institutions in the states where the sites are located, the AIRS Project was able to secure the personnel needed to oversee the sites. The project then trained the scientists responsible for each site and provided them with the needed equipment and modern technology to document their findings. While an extensive amount of planning and commitment on the part of the project team and the NMEP was required to make these sites successful, it has reaped great results.

The country now has a profile of the various types of mosquitoes that transmit malaria across its five ecological zones. Furthermore, information on the response of mosquitoes across the country to the WHO-approved insecticides for malaria vector control is now known. This information will allow the NMEP to make evidence-based decisions in integrated vector management.

In a country where malaria costs an estimated N480billion Naira (nearly USD3 billion) annually in prevention, treatment costs, and loss of work, this new built local capacity is re-invigorating the country’s fight against malaria.