This recently approved Global Grant project will contribute directly to a significant reduction of locally transmitted cases of dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika virus in Fiji.
School children in Suva, Fiji now have the opportunity to join an innovative dengue prevention initiative, thanks to a Rotary Foundation Global Grant, championed by the Rotary Club of Townsville Sunrise (District 9550 - Australia) and local partner, the Rotary Club of Suva (District 9920).
Mosquito borne-diseases are a health concern for people living in Fiji. In 2017, approximately 2,200 dengue cases were reported, while between January and March 2018, 1,854 dengue cases were reported.
The World Mosquito Program (WMP) is working with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) in Fiji to pilot an innovative approach to protect people from mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya.
Mosquitos that carry Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacteria that, when present in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, reduces the mosquito’s ability to transmit dengue and other similar viruses between people.
This project is being implemented following the successful dengue elimination programme from 2015 to 2017 where mosquitos carrying Wolbachia were  released in 32 Townsville suburbs, Charters Towers, the Cassowary Coast, Douglas Shire and the Cairns Region, resulting in the protection of over 280,000 people.
Once Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes are released, they breed with wild mosquitoes. Over time, the majority of mosquitoes carry Wolbachia, decreasing the risk of dengue, Zika and chikungunya outbreaks.
It is not an emergency measure but is a long term, self-sustaining solution to significantly reduce the risk of future outbreaks in high-risk areas. The WMP's Wolbachia method is also compatible with other methods such as insecticides and vaccines.
With support from the Rotary Foundation’s Global Grant, the WMP is now working with local schools to carry out a Fiji-first project where students have the chance to help protect their communities from mosquito-borne diseases by growing and releasing mosquitoes that carry Wolbachia.
School students who volunteer with the project will learn about science in a fun, hands-on way that complements their in-class learning. Students will take part in real-life science, contributing to the World Mosquito Program and the MHMS’s Suva-Nausori-Lami project.
Participants in the releases will contribute to the establishment of Wolbachia in the local Aedes aegypti mosquito population, which is expected to greatly reduce the risk of local dengue transmission, alongside traditional protection methods such as removing breeding sites and using insect repellant.
Supported and funded by the Australian Government’s innovationXchange and with overwhelming community support, the World Mosquito Program commenced releases of mosquitoes with Wolbachia in Tamavua Village in July 2018.
The WMP is looking forward to continuing their work with the community to find ways to reduce the risk of Zika,  dengue and chikungunya in Fiji. Learn more by visiting their website at 
Source:  District 9920 Rotary Foundation Newsletter, August 2018