The NEPAD Agency has initiated regional consultations on the establishment of a regional integrated vector management platform beginning with the ECOWAS region. The Agency is collaborating with the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) to establish the regional platform which is being designed by experts from member states within the ECOWAS region.

The consultative meeting brought together environmental regulators, health regulators, members of ethics committees and malaria control programme managers from six West African countries, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal.
The main objective of the consultation was to examine a draft scope and approach document of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management Platform (WAIVMP), and to plan its roll-out in the region.

Group photo of participants

In his opening remarks, Prof. Aggrey Ambali, Head of NEPAD Agency’s Industrialization, Science, Technology and Innovation programme welcomed participants and thanked them for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the consultative meeting. He thanked experts, various stakeholders and AU and NEPAD colleagues for contributing to the work of the AU High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET), which has recommended ten emerging technologies for the socio-economic development of the continent. In her welcome remarks Mrs. Mimi Darko, CEO of the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority thanked the NEPAD Agency for choosing Accra as the venue for the consultative meetings and reiterated the importance of a collective decision in establishing a platform for integrated vector control and management, which will be owned be member states in the region.

Prof Ambali explained IVM as a strategy by the WHO member states which was adopted last year. The IVM he said, calls for strengthened vector control globally through improved surveillance, increased capacity, better coordination and integrated action of the various sectors. Prof Ambali further stated that the NEPAD Agency has the political authorization to engage in this process through African Union and ECOWAS Member States Decisions. For example in 2013, ECOWAS Heads of state approved development strategies for malaria control and regional initiatives for vector management. During the AU summit in 2017, member states committed to invest in the development and application of new tools for controlling and eliminating malaria. And in January 2018, the AU Executive Council called upon member states to harness emerging technologies including gene drive in their development initiatives.

According to the Head of NEPAD ISTI “we need to move with the regional platform process through appropriate coordination and networking as the world is moving towards the concept of “One Health”, looking at all relevant sectors. Vectors such as mosquitoes cross borders and therefore, we need to have a conversation as a region and adopt a regional approach to integrated vector management”. He therefore, called on member States of the ECOWAS region to work collectively with the NEPAD Agency in adopting a multisectoral approach to the management of disease, which underscores the need for the development of the integrated vector management platform.

During the consultative meeting, presentations were made by NEPAD experts on different topics relating to emerging technologies and integrated vector management. Experts from Member States expressed concern on the high burden of malaria in the region and indicated the need for innovative approaches such as the establishment of WAIVMP to compliment current interventions in the fight against malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa.

A view of part of participants during the workshop

It was clear from the discussions that countries are at different stages with respect to environmental and health regulations as well as the adoption of innovative approaches to disease management. During the meeting member States deliberated on the modalities for the development, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of the platform in order to ensure sustainability and benefit to key populations.

Discussions were quite productive during the different sessions and some participants pointed out the challenges incurred by most West African countries in working on individual basis on matters of vector management. The experts commended the NEPAD Agency for spearheading this initiative and highlighted its relevance and called on ECOWAS member countries to collaborate on the establishment of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management Platform.