In Accra from the 5th to the 8th of June 2017, a team from the NEPAD Agency led by Professor Aggrey Ambali, Head of Industrialization, Science, Technology and Innovation (ISTI)is meeting with these regulators from four West Africa countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal, Mali) and Uganda to discuss and formulate a preliminary regional approach to the control of disease transmitting mosquitoes in the region, building on their experiences during a study tour to South America. Mosquitoes of the genus Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are responsible for the transmission of arboviruses responsible for Yellow fever, Chikungunya, Zika virus, Dengue, Malaria and Rift Valley Fever. These diseases are increasingly becoming a global public health concern due to their rapid spread. In April 2017, regulators and other senior government officials from five countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal) in the ECOWAS region with Tanzania and Uganda were on a study tour, organised by the NEPAD Agency and Danforth Centre, to Brazil and Colombia, to gain practical exposures to integrated disease transmitting mosquito control programs in those countries
and understand their regulatory requirements and processes, as well as assess their effectiveness.
The regulators and NEPAD Agency staff are discussing experiences from the study tour and identification of approaches that can be adopted for a regional programme on regulatory strengthening. The topics covered include technology development and transfer, regulatory capacity strengthening, inter-sectoral collaboration, south-south collaboration, advocacy and policy articulation, community engagement, and leveraging political will and commitment. The essence of regional harmonisation in disease control activities cannot be overlooked, as the mobile nature of mosquitoes makes it more practical for control efforts to be at regional levels. The CEO of the National Biosafety Authority of Ghana, Mr Eric Okoree, in his opening remarks, lauded the efforts of the NEPAD Agency and its partners in spearheading such discussions at regional level and reiterated the commitment of his authority in ensuring that disease vectors are effectively controlled in the ECOWAS region and on the continent as a whole.
Professor Ambali welcomed all present and expressed the hope that this effort would be accepted not as a foreign intervention but one initiated and implemented by the continent in response to addressing its health issues and ensuring Africa achieves its aspiration of eliminating malaria in Africa by 2030. In 2015, WHO reports that there were 212 million new cases of malaria worldwide with 90 % occurring in Africa. A study published in 2013 estimated that 390 million dengue virus infections occurred throughout the tropics in 2010 and 16% of those infections were from Africa – even though the disease is not often recognised as a risk. The Zika virus has also been isolated in Africa in mosquitoes and humans and it has been estimated that over 16 African countries are at high risk of the disease. Forty-seven countries in Africa are reportedly either endemic for or have regions that are endemic for, yellow fever. These disease burdens call for an integrated disease transmitters control approach that can be effective at regional levels.