Although everyone is still vigilant about removing rubbish, they also know that the same mosquitoes that used to spread the disease now have Wolbachia in them and are helping to reduce the spread of the disease. People smile about that!
As village head, Jogi’s role is to communicate about anything to do with community development, including the World Mosquito Program’s Wolbachia method. He was excited to spread the news at village meetings and at the larger communal meetings that bring together village chiefs across the Western Division of Fiji.
“Here’s something that can be done to minimise the risk of getting dengue fever,” he told people. “The World Mosquito Program mosquitoes have been infected with good bacteria that will minimise the spread of mosquito-borne viruses and protect all of our communities.”
As head of the Community Reference Group in Loutoka, Joji asked World Mosquito Program staff to come to the meetings and bring slides and explain to the people what they need to know. The story of the Wolbachia method was told through slide shows and flyers, at meetings and in face-to-face conversations.
The World Mosquito Program takes a collaborative approach to community engagement, which contributes to the high levels of public acceptance for the release of Wolbachia mosquitoes..
Most Fijians already know the symptoms of dengue fever – how it feels and how it spreads. Joji remembers an outbreak of dengue fever in the Loutoka and Nadi areas, with mostly children affected. More recently, there were a couple of cases in the tourism hub of Nadi. This made him think “we have to work hard and we have to work fast – this is happening now.”
Learn more about how the World Mosquito Program works with communities.