PROGRESS REPORT – SCONE (A Project Implemented by BRAIN)
The SCONE project aims to deploy a novel method (Slash and Clear) to reduce the abundance of blackfly insects, vectors on the tropical disease onchocerciasis (river blindness). We expect that fewer blackfly bites will lead to a reduced transmission of onchocerciasis and ultimately fewer cases of onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy in the endemic study villages.
During the just-ended second year of the project, we continued measuring the intensity of biting by the blackfly vector on a monthly basis. We also trained the village volunteers and supervised the implementation of a first round of “Slash and Clear” (first time it was ever implemented on the River Sanaga).
We witnessed a significant reduction in the blackfly bites after the “Slash and Clear” intervention. We will continue monitoring the blackfly situation to see how long the impact of “Slash and Clear” will last. Eventually, we may implement more rounds of the intervention during the third year of the project.
The impact of the action so far is that the village residents have experienced fewer bites by the blackfly vectors. Whether this has translated to a reduced incidence of river blindness in the villages is still to be investigated, via mathematical modelling at the end of the third year of the project. Importantly, the local villagers were trained and provided with equipment to conduct “Slash and Clear” by themselves as need arises, even after the end of the project.
This project is part of the EDCTP2 programme supported by the European Union (grant number TMA2020CDF-3152-SCONE)