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Last Updated:[21-05-2010 07:00:12 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Mosquito-feasting Plants May Well Be the Answer

tradenews A Ugandan scientific team is believed to have discovered an eco-friendly method to eradicate mosquitoes. The team headed by Prof. Jasper Okeng of the Pharmacology department of Makerere University is planning to use insect-eating plants to contain mosquito menace to his country and across Africa.

The disease-spreading ability of mosquitoes has been constantly a threat to majority of developing countries as they inflicted great productivity losses to these economies by hamstringing communities with illnesses such as malaria, dengue, etc. These vectors have taken the lives of largest number of people in the recorded human history by spreading diseases more than any other natural calamities or illnesses.

One of the latest 78 grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support innovations in global health in 18 countries towards Okeng’s effort has to be seen as an endorsement for the continuance and efficacy of the plant research. The professor, who is assisted by his colleagues Dr. James Kalema and Dr. Mary Namaganda, has received a grant of $100,000 from the foundation to help the Ugandans to grow these plants in their yards to keep mosquitoes and related diseases at bay.

Okeng apprised that malaria was the biggest killer and contributor of poverty in Africa and Uganda. "When people are sick, they are unable to do productive work. They spend all their money in treating malaria. Our target is to reduce poverty as well as increase incomes," he explained.

The professor claimed the idea was the first of its kind in Uganda and the world as well. He described that he acquired the knowledge of insect-eating mosquitoes in the 1960s as a student interested in animal and plant biology.

He revisited the idea when there was opposition to the nationwide spraying of households with DDT, an insecticide toxic to animals and humans, to control malaria. "We want people to have choices and shift from using insecticides," he added.

The plants are said to be very effective in killing any flying insects like house flies, moths, aphids or mosquitoes, and initial studies show bees are not been ensnared. However, the team has informed that the plants will be promoted only after a conclusive study on the effect of these on the bees. This is the first time the plants will be cultivated and utilised in disease control though people knew about these insect-eating plants existed in Africa long ago.

By Jose Roy

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