Insecticide resistance in malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in Zimbabwe: a review

Insecticide resistance in malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in Zimbabwe: a review

Malaria is a global public health problem, with about 3.2 billion people at risk of infection. The populations at risk mainly reside in Africa, Asia and America, with African populations accounting for the largest burden of the disease. In 2013, close to 198 million malaria cases were reported, leading to 584,000 deaths. Much (90 %) of the mortality rates were recorded from the World Health Organization (WHO) database in the African region and 78 % of these occurred in children under the age of five. In Zimbabwe, approximately half of the population is at risk of infection with malaria.

Insecticide residual spraying (IRS) has been documented as an effective way to control malaria and has been adopted globally by the WHO and national governments. However, both insecticide resistance and climate change threaten to reverse the progress made by IRS in malaria control. Resistance has been reported in all four classes of insecticides approved by the WHO for vector control intervention. Variability of environmental temperature is suspected to complicate the situation through alteration in the genetic structure, and enzyme and protein profiles of mosquitoes. In Zimbabwe, little research has been done on the interaction between climate change, temperature variability and insecticide resistance in malarial mosquitoes over time. Such information is important for informing policies on insecticide selection for IRS.

The authors reviewed literature on insecticide sensitivity among malarial mosquitoes in Zimbabwe from 1972 to 2014. International peer-reviewed articles on insecticide sensitivity in Zimbabwe, published in English in this time period, were searched using MEDLINE® (PubMed), Google Scholar, Google and grey literature. Eight publications were eligible for the present study, with one of the articles being a review paper. Six articles covered insecticide resistance, while the other two articles, published in 2000, were about the absence of resistance. Contradicting resistance results were reported in 2014.

The insecticide sensitivity status and distribution of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes are still under debate in Zimbabwe, as studies report differing results. The resistance trend in Zimbabwe is characterised by fluctuations in the status of the sensitivity of existing insecticides. Inconsistencies in data collection methods may be responsible for the inconsistencies in the results. None of the studies have determined a link between climate/temperature variability and insecticide resistance as yet. The current insecticide sensitivity status of mosquitoes still needs to be verified.

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