Since 2016, the World Mosquito Program (WMP) has worked extensively with local communities in Medellín to reduce the burden of mosquito-borne diseases. A focus of WMP’s social inclusion policy is to engage marginalised community members. To drive that collaboration, they launched a new initiative at the grassroots level for schools, churches, and libraries.
WMP collaborated with the Santa Cruz Library in Medellín to organize a series of workshops for the Different Reading Club so that those with disabilities can access information about dengue and other diseases.
Sandra Valencia, Service Manager at the library, recalls: “Including people with disabilities in the WMP workshops helps us as a community to fight against mosquito-borne diseases; they will share what they learned here with their families and caregivers, and that also makes them feel valuable.”
“What we were seeking was for them to learn about the symptoms of dengue fever first. This is important as most of the group members spend a lot of time alone, and recognizing the symptoms is vital so that, if they do get sick, they can ask for help from their relatives and the medical service.”
One such service user is Rogelio Zapata. He said: “Just because I can’t see, it doesn't mean I can't learn new things, like this Wolbachia method. I am fascinated by how nature can help us fight these diseases and soon, thanks to Wolbachia, we will not have so many people sick with dengue, Zika, or chikungunya.”
WMP’s Wolbachia Method works by reducing the Aedes Aegypti mosquito’s ability to transmit viruses by introducing the Wolbachia bacteria. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the main transmitter of dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever viruses. In Northern Queensland, Australia, thanks to WMP’s work, dengue is no longer a public health concern.
WMP is engaging with communities, local health authorities, and non-government organisations to help protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases.
Alan Mee, Director, Community Engagement, said: “Community engagement is at the heart of what we do and to be successful we need as diverse input as possible. Gender equality, disability, and social inclusion (GEDSI) considerations are among the most important in public health program implementation today because public health outcomes are shaped by both biological and social factors.”
Through programs like a Different Reading Club, WMP aims to empower women and people with disabilities, by promoting and protecting their human rights and advancing social inclusion considerations. Programs like these ensure all members of the community can actively participate in information events and volunteer, which is a key part of community success.
In other parts of the world, WMP is launching similar initiatives and providing opportunities for groups to assist in public health outcomes in their communities. This drives forward WMP’s vision of a world where everyone can live a healthy life, free from the fear and suffering caused by disease.