Integrating vector control across diseases
Vector-borne diseases cause a significant proportion of the overall burden of disease across the globe, accounting for over 10 % of the burden of infectious diseases. Despite the availability of effective interventions for many of these diseases, a lack of resources prevents their effective control. Many existing vector control interventions are known to be effective against multiple diseases, so combining vector control programmes to simultaneously tackle several diseases could offer more cost-effective and therefore sustainable disease reductions.
The highly successful cross-disease integration of vaccine and mass drug administration programmes in low-resource settings acts a precedent for cross-disease vector control. Whilst deliberate implementation of vector control programmes across multiple diseases has yet to be trialled on a large scale, a number of examples of ‘accidental’ cross-disease vector control suggest the potential of such an approach. Combining contemporary high-resolution global maps of the major vector-borne pathogens enables us to quantify overlap in their distributions and to estimate the populations jointly at risk of multiple diseases. Such an analysis shows that over 80 % of the global population live in regions of the world at risk from one vector-borne disease, and more than half the world’s population live in areas where at least two different vector-borne diseases pose a threat to health. Combining information on co-endemicity with an assessment of the overlap of vector control methods effective against these diseases allows us to highlight opportunities for such integration.
Malaria, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, and dengue are prime candidates for combined vector control. All four of these diseases overlap considerably in their distributions and there is a growing body of evidence for the effectiveness of insecticide-treated nets, screens, and curtains for controlling all of their vectors. The real-world effectiveness of cross-disease vector control programmes can only be evaluated by large-scale trials, but there is clear evidence of the potential of such an approach to enable greater overall health benefit using the limited funds available.