Malaria Research: How Eaves Tubes are Saving Lives
“Most of the projects are quite successful because malaria research has come a long-way,” explains Inmaculada Penas Jimenez. She is a Scientific Officer working to fight infections diseases and global epidemics. Employed by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation, she shared some examples of the projects that her unit is funding and supporting.
The MCD consortium project, is led by the Dutch SME In2Care, and is developing several low-cost interventions and easily-deployed innovations to tackle the mosquito problem. For example, researchers have developed a very simple and clever way of protecting people from malaria by reducing access points for mosquitoes to enter houses.
Nets coated in (bio) pesticide are placed inside plastic tubes, which in turn are placed in the walls of houses at ceiling level. “With the bednets you protect the children which are under the bednets,” she explained. With this system, known as eaves tubes, the whole family is protected. Doors and windows can be closed as air will still come into the house, but mosquitoes won’t be able to enter.
The eaves tubes “are very adapted to the tropical settings,” she explained. “It is a bit expensive at the beginning because you have to do work in the house to make the holes, but it remains forever in the house and can be very useful.”
The project reports that indoor catches of mosquitoes have shown a decline of 85-90% of malaria mosquitoes, and the netting inside the eave tubes is capable of killing all mosquitoes contacting it for a full seven months. As of January 2015, the eaves tubes have protected 7500 people and more than 1300 houses in Tanzania against malaria and malaria mosquitoes.
The AVECNET consortium is coordinated by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Comprising 16 partners from five European countries and five African countries, – the project works in partnership with two international agrochemical companies. It evaluates new insecticides and new combinations against resistant mosquitoes and several products have already entered phase II field studies.
This work is important as it looks for “new tools to fight the mosquito and especially the mosquitoes that have resistance to insecticides,” she said. As well as the malaria parasite developing drug resistance, mosquitoes - the vector of the disease - can develop insecticide resistance. “So we have to fight this terrible thing that happens that mosquitoes can become stronger,” she added.
Finally the COSMIC consortium led by the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam is running a project on the adherence to malaria preventive treatment by pregnant women, aiming at reducing malaria during pregnancy. The study is taking place in three countries: Benin, The Gambia and Burkina Faso. In these countries, antimalarial preventive treatment is normally provided to women at a health facility when they attend antenatal clinical checks. As pregnant women are not always able to access these facilities, COSMIC aims at bringing health services closer to where women live, by using community health workers. Through a cluster-randomized trial, the consortium is studying how community health workers are able to increase the number of pregnant women participating in anti-malaria programmes, thus reducing malaria cases. With the study results they will be able to make policy recommendations for future health programmes.
You can find out more about the MCD eaves tubes projects in the following videos:
- The Dutch TV broadcast on the project where beneficiaries explain how it’s changed their lives. The video can be found on the MCD website.
- A video on the project by Euronews.