Revised WHO Recommendations for Managing Vector-Borne Diseases via Indoor Residual Spraying

Approximately 80% of the global population faces the threat of contracting one or more vector-borne diseases, with mosquitoes, flies, bugs, and other vectors transmitting viruses, parasites, and bacteria to millions worldwide. These diseases, including malaria, dengue, Chikungunya, yellow fever, Zika virus disease, leishmaniases, and Chagas disease, pose significant health risks and contribute to considerable mortality and morbidity rates, particularly in impoverished communities. Survivors often endure lifelong disabilities, compounding the socioeconomic challenges faced by affected regions.

Vector-borne diseases are closely linked to poverty, and their impact extends beyond individual health outcomes to impede economic growth and hinder both rural and urban development efforts.

To combat malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends two primary vector control measures on a large scale: insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying (IRS). IRS involves the application of insecticides inside buildings where disease-carrying insects typically rest, targeting not only malaria-transmitting Anopheles mosquitoes but also other disease vectors.

Dr. Jan Kolaczinski, Head of the Vector Control and Insecticide Resistance unit in the WHO Global Malaria Programme, underscores the significance of expanding the scope of IRS beyond malaria control to encompass other vector-borne diseases. This shift aligns with WHO’s Global vector control response 2017‒2030 strategy, which advocates for integrated vector control efforts across various sectors and diseases.

The updated WHO guidance emphasizes the importance of political commitment, adequate resources, and robust health systems for the successful implementation of IRS campaigns. Timely and high-quality spray application, along with comprehensive coverage, are critical factors for effectiveness. Community engagement and local residents’ acceptance of spray operations are also pivotal for achieving desired outcomes.

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