A joint research between Kaduna State University and Bingham University, with Latter’s Associate Professor of Organic Chemistry, Dr Bamidele Joseph Okoli, as lead researcher, have invented, using natural fabrics, biological control that repels Anopheles mosquitoes.

Speaking during his presentation on, ‘Malaria Prevention: Using the Gift of Nature in the Biocontrol of Anopheles Mosquitoes’ the lead researcher said the only viable option available to Nigeria and other malaria ravaged countries is adoption of this mechanism, if they are to meet, or inch closer to meeting, the 2030 Global Technical Strategy (GTS).

The University don made the call at a One-day workshop jointly organized recently by the Bingham University and Kaduna State University, with the Theme, ‘Malaria Prevention & Control Measures Using Some Plant Bioactive Constituents Found in North Central Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria’, sponsored by Tertiary Education Trust Fund

He argued that locally sourced fabrics, through their high in repelling the disease carriers and potency in inhibiting the normal operation of mosquitoes’ olfactory receptors, have been proven to be more efficacious than the use of insecticide treated nets (ITNs), vaccines, and perhaps any other conventional methods so far adopted.

“Studies have shown that any of the three major mosquito olfaction: Gustatory Receptors (GRs), Odorant Receptors (OR), and lonotropic Receptors (IRs) involved in mosquito olfaction (IRs) can be targeted for the development of specific odour based traps and mosquito repellents.

“Artemisia princeps, Cinnamomum camphora, E. camaldulensis, Dianthus caryophyllum, N. cataria, and Plant oil
ORs and IRs are capable of detecting a wide variety of odorants, but GRs can only detect CO2 and other volatile odorants via a heterotrimeric complex in Anopheles sp. Odorant.

“Our affordable mosquito repellent products will bridge the gap between the Global North and the Global South in terms of malaria control.

“Despite EOs benign nature & potent insecticidal activities, they provide short-term protection against insect bites & are susceptible to oxdation

“The most efficient malaria preventive strategy is to control vectors by targeting or blocking the normal operation of mosquito olfactory receptors.

“Given the Nigeria & African unfavourable malaria statistics, limited of preventive tools, & plant-based vector control strategies, its therefore critical to find a viable alternative if we are to attain the GTS milestone of 2030,” the expert explained.

GTS for malaria 2016–2030 was developed to accelerate progress towards malaria elimination. The GTS targets a global reduction of at least 90% in malaria case incidence and mortality rates, and elimination in at least 35 countries by 2030.

Enlightening the gathering of stakeholders on malaria and its burden in Nigeria and among African nations, the don said, “Malaria is the world’s third most deadly disease, followed by pneumonia & diarrhoea (World Malaria Report, 2020). Malaria is an acute illness caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are spread by infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Human malaria can be caused by any of the five Plasmodium specees: P falciparum, P. ovale, P . vivax, P knowlesi, & P. malariae. gictiund.

“The primary vector across most of the countries is Anopheles gambiae (USAID,2020), adding that young children under the age of 5, women, in their first and second pregnancies, travellers or migrants coming from areas with little or no malaria transmission & persons with no or little immunity against the disease are very prone to the menace of the disease distributor.

“Progress in global malaria control is threatened by emerging resistance to insecticides among Anopheles mosquitoes.

“About 78 countries reported mosquito resistance to at least 1 of the 4 commonly-used insecticide classes between 2010-2019.

“While 29 countries, mosquito resistance was reported to all main insecticide classes. Resistance to Antimalarial drug
over the last decade, antimalarial drug resistance has been reported.”

He highlighted the limitations of ITNs to include: ineffectiveness against exophagic malaria vectors, decreased susceptibility and increased resistance to pyrethroids, the periodic net retreatment is required, distribution, sustainability problems as well as low coverage rates.

Harping more on the nature- based solution, he said the finished products of the (repellent candle, paint, ointment, fabrics) will contribute significantly in reducing cost of mosquito control.

He noted that compared to some of the traditional mosquito control measures, these benign products will reduce the impact of aerosols on the environment.

And that even at that, the successful development of the repellent fabric& other value-added products will encourage the cultivation of Plant oil as an economic shrub, creating jobs in the agriculture sector, boosting national GDP, and supporting the government economic revolution programmes.

According to the Associate Professor, from the studies so far carried out, they had been able to finger-print the Plant oil in the North Central Geopolitical Zone of Nigeia and determine the best cultivar as well as determine repellence activity.

“We have also been able to stabilise the essential oil from Plant oil and prolonged the repellence duration, ” he said.

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