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Dissemination of Wolbachia method is challenging, says health ministry official

Tempo - November 26, 2023

Antara, Jakarta – The utilization of the Wolbachia method to control dengue is running into challenges, especially in terms of disseminating information about the method to the community.

Director of communicable disease prevention and control at the Ministry of Health, Imran Pambudi, made the remarks at a discussion on "Developments in Dengue Vector Control in Indonesia" in Jakarta on Saturday, November 25, 2023.

"The main challenge is how to convince the public. The public must know the benefits and risks of using mosquitoes with Wolbachia," he said.

According to Pambudi, disseminating information to the community regarding the innovation must be carried out intensively and continuously.

In addition, he said, the community must also be involved in the trials of the Wolbachia method.

Pambudi noted that the Wolbachia method has proven effective and safe in reducing the spread of the dengue virus, although currently, this evidence is still limited to trials and there are no plans to expand the target nationally.

He said that dengue fever is still posing a threat to public health in Indonesia.

"The burden of dengue fever in Indonesia is quite large, with the number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) being higher than for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other tropical infectious diseases," he pointed out.

He said that 76,449 dengue cases and 571 dengue deaths were recorded in the period from January to November 2023. In 2022, there were 143,300 dengue cases with 1,236 deaths.

A member of the steering committee of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Adi Utarini, said that the use of mosquitoes with Wolbachia bacteria needs to be combined with other dengue control efforts, such as eliminating mosquito nests.

"Cleanliness must continue to be maintained, and the elimination of mosquito nests must continue to be carried out," she added.

Utarini expressed the hope that the government and relevant stakeholders would cooperate to tackle challenges in the dissemination of information on the Wolbachia method so that it will not become limited to trials.

"I think the technology of mosquito with Wolbachia can be one of the effective solutions to control dengue fever in Indonesia," she said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1801527/dissemination-of-wolbachia-method-is-challenging-says-health-ministry-officia