Use of drones in the battle against malaria to start with Gasabo

By the end of this month, Rwanda will begin to use drones to spray mosquito- prone areas as efforts to eliminate malaria are intensified.

The pilot stage will start in Gasabo District before being rolled out to other areas of the nation by the end of this year, according to Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director General of the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC).

“It is (spraying mosquitos using drones) planned to start by end 2019. The drones are already available through Charis UAS and the Bti product is being procured,” Nsanzimana disclosed.

Charis Unmanned Aerial Solutions is a local drone technology firm whereas Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies  israelensis (Bti) is a soil-based bacteria used as an insecticide that kills premature larvae.

“The pilot or feasibility phase is planned in Gasabo District. Thereafter, other districts will be covered targeting marshlands.”

Earlier officials said the drones could fly on a single battery for about 15 minutes and spray a 40- hectare region in a single day.

Some African nations have effectively implemented the drones to map and spray mosquito breeding regions,  including Malawi.

Malaria, a mosquito-born illness, is a life-threatening disease.  Last year, to control mosquitoes from breeding, Rwanda accelerated attempts to eliminate malaria starting larviciding and spatial manual spraying.

The initiative was launched in Kamonyi District and focused on breeding habitats for mosquitoes

Drones and manual spraying projects complement existing malaria interventions, including mass distribution of  bed networks, malaria case management in areas where community health employees are equipped to screen and treat malaria, free malaria therapy for Rwandans in Ubudehe 1 and 2 social clusters, and remaining indoor spraying in malaria-prone districts.

After recording 436,000 fewer instances of malaria in 2017 compared to 2016, the World Health Organization is  now considering Rwanda as a progress category.

Due to various policies being introduced under its malaria contingency plan, the nation has decreased malaria  instances.

In the latest past, home- based leadership (HBM) has been extended to allow community health employees to provide malaria therapy to patients of all ages in reaction to a revival of malaria in Rwanda.

The recent formal malaria statistics in Rwanda point to an increase in home- based leadership rates managed by community health employees from 50% in 2018 to 57.1% in 2019.

“There was a decrease of more than 50 per cent in severe malaria cases and malaria related mortality from 2016 to June 2019 following the roll out of Home-Based Management of malaria (HBM) in both children and adults,” Nsanzimana said.

Additionally, he said, annual malaria cases dropped from 4.6 million in 2018 to 3.9 million in 2019.

The incidence of malaria also decreased from 394 per 1,000 people in 2018 to 328 per 1,000 in 2019.

Globally, according to the WHO, there were an estimated 219 million malaria instances in 87 nations in 2017.

As of December 2017, there were 219 million malaria instances, up from the prior year’s 217 million instances, tells the WHO.

Africa bears a disproportionately elevated share of the worldwide malaria burden. The region was home to 92  percent of malaria instances and 93 percent of malaria fatalities in 2017.


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