Kampala — A new organic larvaecide that aims at fighting the spread of malaria has been successful in tests in Uganda. Bacillus Thuringiensis subspecies Israelensis, (BTI) is to be used alongside DDT.
BTI kills the larvae of the female anopheles mosquito which carries the deadly malaria parasite, while DDT kills adult mosquitoes.
BTI can also kill the black flies which spread river blindness. Uganda will be the first country in the world where the larvaecide will be used for spraying mosquitoes.
The drug has been tested at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Entebbe and has been successful. The organic larvaecide has no side effects.
The larvaecide was discovered in 1977 in Canada and was first used in the 1980s to spray black flies in the US and Canada. It turned out successful, according to Colin Rousseaux, a professor of pathology and experimental medicine at the University of Ottawa, Canada. BTI is sprayed using a fogging machine.
The drug which is promoted by Xenorex, a Canada-based organisation, will be sprayed outdoors in mosquito breeding places like water bodies and footmarks, while DDT will be used indoors, according to the Ministry of Health.
The reason for targeting the larvae of mosquitoes is, so that no adults are formed. Adults are the ones that carry the parasite.
Richard Nduhura, the Minister of State for Health (General Duties), said they had contacted Xenorex for a biological method of eradicating malaria. He confirmed that positive results were got from tests done at the Uganda Virus Institute.
Nduhura said the government would start using BTI immediately after the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and the National Drug Authority (NDA) endorse it.
NEMA's approval is expected before the end this month. Xenorex will work with the health ministry and Makerere University to achieve a multi-faceted approach to control malaria.
"The reason of using such an approach is that in cases of recurring malaria, using individual therapies was not very effective. It was after using multiple therapies that it actually had the desired effect."
"For example for AIDS, no one drug is effective in properly checking it. For cancer, we have registered success in mixing radiation with other multiple drugs, so multiple treatments do have an effect," said Rousseaux.
"Here in Uganda we have a problem, we can't control water, we can't take people out of the environment that is their home and we have to deal with mosquitoes. Before we go onto the treatment or our plan, there are several things that need to be mentioned.
Xenorex will be working with the Uganda Malaria Research Institute in Kampala to execute the programme.
Malaria is the biggest world killer, according to statistics. In Uganda, over 300 people reportedly die of malaria daily.