WHO updates recommendation for mosquito nets to prevent malaria, based on new research

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WHO updates recommendation for mosquito nets to prevent malaria, based on new research

The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its recommendation for mosquito nets to prevent malaria, based on new research from the University of Adelaide.

Dr Timothy Barker, from the JBI Adelaide GRADE Center based at the University of Adelaide, led a team that demonstrated the effectiveness of a combination of insecticides when used to treat malaria-preventing mosquito nets.

Mosquito nets treated with pyrethroid insecticides have been deployed in malaria-prone regions of the world since 2005, but some mosquito populations have developed resistance to the substance.

“The number of malaria cases has actually increased in 2020, while there has been a sustained and steady decline in the number of malaria cases seen from 2000 to 2019,” Dr Barker said.

“With this in mind, the WHO was interested in a new type of bed net that was recently investigated in some clinical trials that could combat this problem.

“For a new healthcare recommendation to be made, the results of individual trials must be systematically reviewed. As experts in research methodology, systematic reviews and development of recommendation guidelines, WHO asked us to help them in this process. “

Dr. Barker’s team analyzed the results of randomized controlled trials conducted in the Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso and Tanzania, where mosquitoes have been shown to be resistant to the standard insecticide. They found that combining a pyrethroid insecticide with chlorfenapyr improved its effectiveness.

“Chlorfenapyr acts as a pyrethroid insecticide synergist by disrupting the mosquito’s ability to produce energy. This increases the net’s ‘killing effect’ without further harm to the person sleeping under it,” Dr Barker explained.

WHO has updated its malaria guidelines to include nets treated with the pyrethroid-chlorfenapyr as well as the less effective pyrethroid-pyriproxyfen combination. Sleeping under a mosquito net is one of the best ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites that spread malaria.

In 2021, almost half of the world’s population was at risk of malaria. There are an estimated 247 million cases and 619,000 deaths worldwide that year.

“To contribute directly to a recommendation that will prevent people from developing malaria and subsequently reduce the number of people who can unfortunately die from this terrible disease is something I am extremely proud of,” said Dr Barker.

“Doing this work on behalf of the University of Adelaide, using the resources and skills I have developed as a student and researcher at that institution, I believe is a testament to the international impact our university can deliver.”

The University of Adelaide systematic review will be published in PLUS ONE on Thursday, August 17.

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