World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan said on Monday that vector-borne diseases are a problem across the world, and deserve special attention in order to keep them under control.
Chan spoke in honor of World Health Day. She said controlling the diseases requires diligence and action in many areas.
During the 1940s and 1950s, insecticides controlled many vector-borne diseases including yellow fever and malaria. Chan said the action bred complacency, and control programs were discontinued. When the diseases began to reemerge, programs that had controlled them before were no longer in place.
Chan said dengue, malaria and yellow fever have come back "with a vengeance," and tend to produce large outbreaks. She said control programs must never stall because of the diseases' aggressive nature.
She said taking action against vector-borne diseases is feasible. WHO employs a range of interventions to control the diseases, including natural insect predators and residual spraying to control mosquitoes, which transmit disease.
Mosquitoes are developing a resistance to insecticides, and are beginning to thrive again in areas with poor sanitation where water is unsafe. Programs that control vectors can provide an efficient and excellent opportunity to help the poor escape the threat of disease, Chan said.