ZAP Helps the Dominican Republic Outsmart Mosquitoes
The Zika Communication Network will be publishing a series of success stories from the Zika AIRS Project (ZAP). This is the fourth in the series.
ZAP Builds Entomological Capacity to Reduce Spread of Zika Virus through Diploma Program
The Dominican Republic experiences a significant burden of vector-borne diseases, such as the Zika virus, dengue, and chikungunya. In 2017, there were only 10 entomologists in the country trained to study mosquito behavior and resistance trends. The Zika AIRS Project (ZAP), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is helping to build the Dominican Republic’s capacity in entomological monitoring and vector control decision-making.
In partnership with USAID, the Pan American Health Organization, the Ministry of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, ZAP designed a program that provides practical training in vector control and entomological monitoring methods and tools as well as basic management skills, such as planning, logistics, monitoring and evaluation. The program is designed for health technicians at the provincial level, where disease prevention and health promotion services are delivered.
Local and international faculty trained participants through hands-on training as well as theoretical practice. PAHO sent an instructor from Guatemala while ZAP’s regional entomologist Nelson Grisales participated in the design and selected sessions of the program.
The program, which includes 216 hours of instruction, graduated its first 31 participants on May 23, 2018. Seventy percent of all instruction hours included practical training. The diploma program took advantage of local resources, such as a mosquito collection available at the Natural History Museum and its experienced curators. One key experience for participants was the overnight field collection of mosquito samples, something many of them had not experienced before.
Epidemiologist Elba Mejia, who works at the Provincial Health Directorate (DPS) in Monte Plata, a province near Santo Domingo, participated in the program. “I am now able to understand how entomological surveys should be done to identify potential risk areas. I look forward to making some improvements in the current system,” said Mejia.
Dr. Wiston Martinez, a director at the DPS said, “I am very pleased now to have an expert on my team, someone knowledgeable to lead vector control activities in the province.”
The training included insectary management best practices, analysis and interpretation of entomological data, and dissecting methods. Participants also were trained on how to collect, preserve, and manage vector colonies, and how to conduct insecticide resistance monitoring using CDC and World Health Organization bioassays. ZAP will conduct a second round of the program in mid-2018.