Anti-malaria groups warn of growing insecticide resistance

Several global health groups recently announced the development of a strategy to fight the emergence of insecticide resistance in malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

The World Health Organization and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership described the five part plan to minimize insecticide resistance before it becomes established in mosquito populations, according to CIDRAP News.

The WHO said the necessity of a plan was brought to its attention in a 2011 request by the World Health Assembly, which consulted more than 130 stakeholders in drafting a 132 page report on the subject.

Efforts to control malaria since 2000 are believed to have cut deaths by one-quarter throughout the world and one-third in Africa alone. The use of insecticides, however, remains a lynchpin of current vector control strategies. Resistance to commonly-used insecticides has been identified in 64 countries with ongoing malaria transmission.

"The global malaria community takes this threat seriously," Margaret Chan, the WHO's director-general, said, CIDRAP News reports. "The Global Plan for Insecticide Resistance Management in malaria vectors (GPIRM) is evidence of a broad commitment to act before insecticide resistance compromises current vector control strategies."

Chan said the over-reliance on a single class of insecticide, pyrethroids, is driving increased resistance in some areas, while the use of insecticides in agriculture is driving it in others.

Insecticides have been extremely effective in vector-control efforts, but the report says their potency needs to be preserved with a coordinated effort from the global anti-malaria community. The authors of the report estimate that resistance to pyrethroids could weaken vector-control efforts by up to 55 percent.