VOICE OF AMERICA
Malaria kills more than 400,000 people each year, and most victims are in Africa. Now Target Malaria, an international group of scientists, is working in Burkina Faso on a genetic solution.
Abdoulaye Diabate of the country’s Research Institute for Science and Health said Target Malaria hopes to develop a genetic tool to modify mosquitoes so their offspring will be only male. Any females they mate with after release also will produce just males.
Since only female mosquitoes spread malaria, the disease should drop off quickly along with their population.
In the village of Bana, where the genetically modified mosquitoes first were tested in 2019, locals were worried about the experiment.
Kiesiara Sanou, a Bana village elder, said 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 the purpose and now even help them with tasks such as collecting mosquitoes.
Genetically modified mosquitoes are just one malaria solution that scientists have tested in Burkina Faso. The country also pioneered pesticide-infused mosquito nets.
Oxford University’s Jenner Institute in April 2021 announced that a malaria vaccine tested in Burkina Faso had a breakthrough 77% efficacy.
Naima Sykes of Target Malaria said that according to the World Health Organization’s “World Malaria Report 2019,” over 94% of malaria cases and deaths took place in Africa.
Sykes added that when finding institutions to partner with, Target Malaria sought out institutions in countries with a significant malaria burden and a strong desire to do something about it.