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The Battle Against Insecticide Resistance

When the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes insecticide resistance as a major threat for the control of vector-borne diseases, it is officially a topic of great concern. Those in mosquito control have recognized the threat for years and hope that this declaration helps bring the topic to the forefront not only within the public health community, but also governments at large.


In March of 2016, the TDR (Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases) supported the development of an international network that will track insecticide resistance distribution, trends and mechanisms in mosquitoes that carry arboviral disease. The network, known as the Worldwide Insecticide-resistance Network (WIN), functions to enhance the monitoring of disease-carrying mosquitoes and to thereby reduce insecticide resistance through research and implementation.

Dr. Florence Fouque, a medical entomologist and and currently TDR/WHO Staff, has worked with mosquito vectors of diseases for over 25 years and believes insecticide resistance impacts vector control measures. Resistance is a merging globalized problem worldwide that is moving from one country to another through transportation of goods and tourism. Dr. Fouque says that the network was initiated because reliable data surrounding insecticide resistance is lacking, as is an infrastructure to exchange data there is. The network will provide a strong platform needed to build methodology, compile data and ultimately manage resistance.


Founding members of the newly formed network recently hosted a workshop in Brazil with professionals from both private and public sectors coming together to discuss the resistance challenge. With its burgeoning urban areas and population over 206 million, Brazil served as a fitting venue to discuss this topic. The workshop targeted a broad audience and hosted discussions to facilitate the deployment of alternative tools for arbovirus vector control.

Rodrigo Rodrigues, Sales Manager of Sumitomo Chemical Do Brasil and attendee of the conference, knows firsthand that Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or Bti, is a big part of the solution to the resistance issue in Brazil and throughout Latin America. Rodrigues works to partner with several states and strategic municipalities in Brazil to demonstrate the value of Bti-based products as a larval control program. “While there is a long way to go before Brazil fully integrates larval control programs, the knowledge of their efficacy has continued to grow throughout the region since 2001 when municipalities in Brazil began using Bti as a substitute to temephos,” says Rodrigues. “With the help of the WIN network, the challenge with resistance will continue to get the attention it deserves, hopefully leading to an effective solution.”


In the future, WIN network plans to grow larger and become financially independent. In the past, TDR created two similar networks that began with TDR technical and financial support at the helm and are now independently sustainable: the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI) and the ASEAN Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines and Traditional Medicines Innovation (ASEAN-NDI).