Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) yesterday launched a standard identification laboratory for mosquitoes and other parasites.
The lab is hoped will enable effective and certain control of malaria epidemic and other parasitic diseases (OPD).
The new facility comes as the country is pushing to achieve a malaria-free nation by 2018.
Malaria morbidity currently stands at 9 per cent, while the mortality rate stands at 4 per cent.
Through the laboratory, Rwanda will be able to test new insecticides (for indoor residue spraying) and make new discoveries about mosquito species and drugs.
Located at the University of Rwanda’s School of Public Health in Kicukiro District, the laboratory, worth $400,000 (about Rwf275 million), will allow all samples to be tested in the country, saving not only time and money, but also lives.
Officials at RBC said the entomology laboratory will provide the needed evidence on which to base to formulate policies and strategic decisions in vector control both in Rwanda and the region.
“This laboratory is the most effective in the region. We will be able to identify various types of both infectious and non-infectious mosquitoes in a short time,” Emmanuel Hakizimana, the director of vector control at RBC, said.
“The previous methods of testing using microscope could allow us to identify one mosquito within 30 minutes, but with the new laboratory, we can identify 96 mosquitoes at once within 30 minutes.”
Hakizimana added that the results will be more reliable as the laboratory will be able to test mosquitoes using DNA tests, rather than microscope.
So far, there are nine species identified and mosquitoes stay in non-sprayed house for 48 hours, while they stay for 12 hours in a sprayed house.
About 67 per cent of mosquitoes feed on humans whereas the rest feed on animals.
The laboratory will also help test the efficiency of medicine, including sprays for malaria control interventions to ensure that people do not fall victim of fake drugs.
“Thanks to the sample tests carried out under the auspices of this laboratory, we found out that the mosquito spray that we applied once in six months was not enough as the efficacy was wane out, showing that the spray should be done twice in six months,” Hakizimana said.
RBC has been relying on 12 health centres to test mosquitoes, but the function was only done using microscopes registering sub-standards results, which called for international assistance.
The new entomolody facility was built with the support of US President’s Malaria Initiative, through the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Agency for International Development.