Network seeks to build better in bid to fight diseases in urban settlements

By on 04/12/2019

Nairobi, 11 April 2019—A meeting bringing together scientists and built environment specialists has been told that Africa had 200 million malaria cases and 403,000 deaths from the same in 2017. This means that Africa accounted for 92% of the global malaria cases and 93% of malaria deaths, the meeting was further informed.

The two day conference was held under the auspices of BOVA (building-out vector-borne diseases) network. BOVA is an interdisciplinary network focusing on preventing vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and zika  through improving the built environment.

The biggest take away from the meeting was that poor quality housing and environmental conditions undermine the health of citizens with regard to vector-borne diseases.

“We have made great progress in the fight against vector borne diseases but have hit a stagnation in the past few years where little progress or a slight decline in the fight against diseases like malaria,” commented BOVA co-director Prof. Steve Lindsay.

Prof. Lindsay,a public health entomologist at Durham University further expounded that the home is a place of high risk for malaria transmission, with over 80% of malaria transmission by the night-biting mosquito indoors. Mosquitoes can enter leaky houses through open eaves, doors and windows. Towns and cities undergoing unplanned urbanization and accompanying environmental degradation provide an ideal habitat for the day-biting mosquito,” he said.

The main aim of the conference was to bring in different parties in the built environment and exchange information with those from the vector borne diseases. They intended to build the BOVA Network and develop future research proposals by the end of the conference.

With the examples of the tenements (Muzigo) in Uganda and CUBO bamboo project from the Philippines, it showcased both poor built housing and an attempt to make better cheaper housing for tackling the spread of the diseases. Earthenable flooring in, Kigali, Rwanda and recycling in Merida, Mexico projects brought bright ways of how to tackle the problem by covering dirt floors and recycling mosquito breeding vessels such as old buckets respectively. “Innovative solutions involve using readily available material. We are using sand, soil and finishing floors with vanish focusing on reducing emissions and ensuring we have healthy cities,” said Kathryn Dutile co-founder of Earthenable Uganda.

Integrated Vector Management in Khartoum, Sudan showcased how collaboration with the government and other sectors have seen great progress in the fight against vector borne diseases with a huge decline of number of cases and deaths. “Vector control departments have been established in all 18 states and 100% of these unit lead by MSc. holder in medical entomology and vector control,” Hmooda Khafy.

A bridge between the 2 industries on the 2nd day of the conference was achieved by bringing small groups from both sides to discuss future proposals on the matter. “Since 1980’s UN-Habitat has been integrating concerns on vector borne diseases in their work. Currently our New Urban Agenda gives more prominence on vector borne diseases,” Graham Alabaster from UN-Habitat

“This 2nd BOVA Network conference Brings together health & built environment specialists working towards reducing threats from vector-borne diseases while making communities healthy & resilient,” said Lindsay.

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