Dengue is considered the world’s fastest spreading tropical disease. Forty percent of the world’s population—predominantly living in the world’s poorest communities—are at risk of contracting the virus this year. The World Health Organization identified dengue as one of the top ten global health threats of 2019. Dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever are all life-threatening viruses transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Various methods over many decades to eradicate the species have been largely ineffective.
Mosquito-borne diseases spread by Aedes aegypti can have a devastating impact on the individuals, families, and communities affected. Collectively, the diseases spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito disproportionately impact peoples of low-income countries, exacerbating poverty and hardship and impeding economic development.
The World Mosquito Program has developed a solution—using a naturally occurring bacteria called Wolbachia—that has proven to be efficacious, cost-effective, and embraced by communities living with the threat of mosquito-borne disease. The program has demonstrated that it can deliver this intervention at scale in multiple countries and has already provided protection to millions of people. The World Mosquito Program now plans to make the required transformations in its scaling pathway to make the Wolbachia method universally available to communities at risk.
As the Wolbachia-carrying mosquito releases are undertaken over larger geographic areas, the World Mosquito Program expects to measure an even greater reduction in disease incidence. It intends to build on the success achieved so far to upscale the program to enable delivery of the Wolbachia method globally.
Epidemiological studies show that the incidence of mosquito-borne disease is significantly lower in Wolbachia-treated communities than in untreated neighboring communities. For example, nearly ten years since implementation in north Queensland Australia, the region is now essentially dengue free, while a gold-standard randomized trial in Yogyakarta, Indonesia has shown a 77 percent reduction in dengue incidence and an 86 percent reduction in dengue hospitalizations. Independent experts have developed mathematical modelling that predicts that the method should eliminate virus transmission in most locations for decades.
The team made the following changes to its proposal since it was first submitted in August of 2019, informed by additional research, project development, and authentic engagement with communities of interest—defined as beneficiaries, those who might suffer harm, other funders, and competitors.
- Whereas our initial plan was to focus on implementing and protecting people across multiple countries throughout Asia and the Americas, we have reframed our project to be more focussed on implementation in multiple cities in Brazil and Indonesia. This approach will enable protection of the maximum number of people in the shortest possible time. These countries sustain intense annual disease transmission, have very large at-risk populations, and will represent precedents for scaled deployment to other countries in their respective regions—therefore driving acceleration of global uptake. We will use these two countries as effective demonstrations of disease reduction and protection of millions of people within each country.
- Extending existing partnerships with locally trusted and respected organizations in Brazil and Indonesia and building new relationships with implementing partners that are already well established and trusted in the communities we are targeting will be key to our planning for scaling the intervention.
- We recognize that to achieve our mission of equitably protecting tens of millions of people, we must renew and make explicit our commitment to inclusiveness both in our programming and in our organizational culture. We will extend our partnerships with representative groups such as women’s and girls’ rights movements, disability rights organizations, Indigenous rights movements, and LGBTIQ networks, and HIV/AIDS groups among others. The overarching goal is to enable a diversity of individuals to have their voices heard and contribute to decision making, activities, and outputs.
About Our Team
The team at the World Mosquito Program is committed to the cause of ending mosquito-borne disease. We come from diverse backgrounds with experience in the fields of epidemiology, microbiology, global health, entomology, research in infectious diseases, and international development. A strong collaborative culture is maintained in project sites across several continents with the very best expertise employed from all over the world.
Scott O’Neill, Director
Reynold Dias, Chief Operating Officer
Van Pham, Director, People and Culture
Janina Khayali, Regional Director of the Americas
Cameron Simmons, Regional Director Oceania
Claudia Surjadjaja, Regional Director Asia
Peter Ryan, Director, Business Development
Kieran Walters, Senior Manager, Strategy and Performance
Bruno Col, Director, Communications and Engagement
Bruno Col, Communications and Engagement Director, World Mosquito Program, +84-901-853-166
“Scaled deployment of Wolbachia to protect the community from Aedes transmitted arboviruses”
Scott O’Neill, et al, Gates Open Research
“The result of our Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial in Yogyakarta, Indonesia provide compelling gold-standard evidence for the efficacy of the Wolbachia method in controlling dengue”
World Mosquito Program
“What Makes Community Engagement Effective?: Lessons from the Eliminate Dengue Program in Queensland Australia“
Pamela Kolopack, et al, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
"Open dialogue – A study on large-scale community engagement in Brazil”
World Mosquito Program
Finalists Live Presentation
Scott Simon, Host of NPR’s Weekend Edition, Award-winning Journalist, and Author leads a conversation with National Geographic Pristine Seas and World Mosquito Program.