World Mosquito Day, which celebrated on Saturday 20th August, is intended to create awareness for mosquito borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika, chikungunya and lymphatic filariasis.
These mosquito-borne diseases pose a serious health threat worldwide including in Pacific Island countries and territories. World Mosquito Day has been celebrated annually since 1897 to honour Sir Ronald Ross who confirmed that mosquitoes transmit malaria parasites between humans.
In 2022, major community events to increase awareness about mosquito-borne disease risks were held in both Samoa and Fiji. To combat the ongoing risk of mosquito-borne diseases, it is crucial to reduce mosquito breeding grounds. In both countries, the government encouraged community clean up and removal of mosquito breeding sites in and around communities.
In Samoa, the theme for this year was ‘Beware of the Bite’ which emphasised the importance of understanding the causes of mosquito-borne diseases, and proactively taking actions towards disease prevention, including through effective vector control.
In Fiji, the public were encouraged to adopt the approach ‘Zero Mosquitoes Starts With Me’. The National Vector Control Unit in Fiji marked the day by launching a new project which aims to extend Fiji’s existing mosquito-monitoring surveillance and control program, and to aid community behaviour change.
The project will train ‘citizen scientists’ from the community – including school children, teachers, and health centre staff – to capture mosquitoes, and to recognise and remove mosquito breeding habitats. The project received high-level support with the Minister of Health of Fiji Ifereimi Waqainabete (pictured) officiating at the launch.
The new citizen science project is sponsored by a small research grant from the PacMOSSI consortium – a partnership between Pacific Island Countries, the World Health Organization (WHO), James Cook University, the Pacific Community and the University of New South Wales with funding from the Australian Government’s Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security, the French Development Agency and the European Union. The consortium is working across the Pacific to enhance preparedness to combat current and emerging mosquito borne disease threats.