South Africa’s first research trial for the biological control of mosquitoes is being launched in northern KwaZulu-Natal, that has the potential to completely eliminate malaria in the area.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says they are going to do field tests of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) in the Jozini area.

This is one of the areas in the country that is prone to malaria epidemics.

The technique involves the mass-rearing and sterilisation of male mosquitoes before they are released in the wild.

It is expected that mating between wild females and the sterile males will cause a decline in the mosquito population.

Senior scientist at the institute, Doctor Givemore Munhenga, says the project has been successfully tested in laboratories.

He says it is the first time these mosquitoes will be released in a wide systematic area.

“We chose Jozini because their control programme is going on very well and they have managed to reduce malaria transmission to a level where we can start thinking about a level where malaria is eliminated.”

“The current strategy is effective, but cannot completely solve the malaria control programme. So, we are now investigating various strategies. One of them we are investigating is called the sterile insect technique.”

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