Women lead major project to combat mosquito-borne diseases in Pacific Island Countries

PacMOSSI Project

Women lead major project to combat mosquito-borne diseases in Pacific Island Countries

Two Australian women are leading Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security’s regional collaboration, PacMOSSI, to increase capacity to combat mosquito-borne diseases in Pacific Island Countries in 2019. PacMOSSI includes a regional consortium of partners which will implement interventions with support from the Agence Française de Développement.

This International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022, the Centre wishes to recognise the contributions of the project leads – Dr Tanya Russell and Dr Amanda Murphy.

Dr Tanya Russell is an Australian medical entomologist and ecologist co-leading the Mosquito-Borne Diseases Group at James Cook University. The aim of her research is to stop the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases globally, but with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific. She has pioneered numerous large-scale field experiments across the Pacific, Asia and Africa demonstrating how the ecology of the mosquito vectors plays a significant role in disease transmission.

 

 

 

 

Dr Amanda Murphy is an Australian mosquito-borne disease ecologist based in the Division of Pacific Technical Support at the World Health Organization office in Suva, Fiji. She acts as a regional focal point to support the vector control needs of Pacific Island countries – as the interface between regional Ministries of Health and international partners. Her role involves providing coordination and technical assistance to projects including the PacMossi capacity building project, and to projects aiming to strengthen regional networks for the surveillance and control of mosquito-borne diseases across the Pacific.

 

 

 

The women told the Centre what it means to them to lead such an important project. “One of the biggest challenges to controlling mosquito-borne diseases is a lack of local capacity, and I am really excited to be co-leading the PacMOSSI project, that was developed to directly address this challenge. In response to COVID travel restrictions we have shifted to develop an online training that will actually be more sustainable and cost-effective and able to a wider community o f vector control officers based at based at both national and regional levels,” Tanya said.

“The disproportionate impacts on women and girls, in many of the world’s poorest nations is what makes mosquito-borne diseases even more devastating. The gender inequalities between women and men can result in differing risk of mosquito bites, so working to reduce mosquito-borne diseases often means also working to reduce inequality,” Amanda said.

“Being able to dedicate my career to studying mosquitoes, has enabled me to work with amazing colleagues, travel to incredible places and most importantly contribute to the global fight against mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika and chikungunya,” Tanya said.