Jan 04, 2022 | News

WA-IVM Steering Committee Adopts Guidelines for Genetically Based Control of the Malaria Vector

WA-IVM Steering Committee Adopts Guidelines for Genetically Based Control of the Malaria Vector

The Steering Committee of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management (WA-IVM) Platform held a meeting from 16 – 18 December 2021 in Accra, Ghana. Among other objectives, the meeting sought to adopt the first set of guidelines that were developed through a comprehensive process started in 2018.

The guidelines are meant to guide regulators and scientists undertaking research activities towards the development of gene drive technologies as a novel malaria vector control tool. The meeting was organised by AUDA-NEPAD and the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) serving as Secretariate to the WA-IVM Steering Committee.

Mr Eric Okoree, representing the host country welcomed participants and acknowledged their contributions in the process.

 “I wish also to call all of you who are participating in this meeting to strive to ensure the buy-in of your governments for a smooth implementation of the IVM programme in your countries. I invite you to pursue the teamworking spirit and increase the information sharing to make sure common processes are in place throughout the WA region,” Dr Rufus Ebegba, Vice-Chair of the committee stated.

Ms Nanlop Ogbureke, representing WAHO said that “We are now more than ever compelled to also put in place measures to ensure that diseases or epidemics in our regions are not neglected, including malaria and other vector-borne diseases. This meeting could not come at a better time when we have the opportunity to further strengthen approaches and this kind of continental platforms that will facilitate stronger multi-sectoral collaboration. Such collaboration will help effectively control disease vectors.”

On his part, Dr Jeremy T. Ouedraogo from AUDA-NEPAD stated that “This meeting will allow us to update participants on activities carried out in the past year. We also expect strong recommendations that will allow us to move forward in the implementation of the programme and to address the challenges that Africa is facing.” 

The Steering Committee meeting was preceded by a three-day meeting of the WA-IVM Technical Working Groups (TWGs) that took place from December 13-15 also in Accra. Four TWGs were established since the beginning of the programme based on the key thematic areas of the platform, which include Health Regulation, Biosafety Regulation, Disease Management and Vector Control, and Ethics. TWGs serve as the technical arms for the Steering Committee.

During their meeting, the TWGs reviewed the IVM programme activities implemented in 2021 and the planned programme for 2022. They also reviewed and finalised the guidelines and they agreed that these could be approved by the SC so that countries can start domesticating them according to their needs.

During the deliberations, members of the Steering Committee noted different points in the guidelines that still need improvement. They adopted the documents and agreed to send their suggestions for improvement in early January 2022.

The adoption of the IVM guidelines is a key milestone in the implementation of the IVM programme that aims to bring together members States of the West Africa Region in a coordinated approach for malaria control using not only existing tools but also emerging technologies such as gene drive. Starting from 2022, this pilot approach will be progressively extended to other African regions and the entire continent, with the aim to achieve malaria elimination in the continent.