The World Mosquito Program in Kiribati is part of a global, not-for-profit initiative that is working to protect local communities from mosquito-borne diseases.
Dengue, Zika and chikungunya have a long history in the Pacific, including Kiribati. The World Mosquito Program has partnered with the Kiribati Government to bring our Wolbachia method to local communities. Funded and supported by the Australian Government, the initiative has been rolled out in high-risk communities across South Tarawa, including Betio, between June 2018 and June 2019.
We have introduced naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria into the local mosquito populations by releasing Wolbachia mosquitoes. These mosquitoes breed with wild mosquitoes in the area and, over time, almost all mosquitoes will carry Wolbachia. Mosquitoes that carry Wolbachia have a reduced ability to transmit viruses to people, decreasing the risk of outbreaks of dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever.
(Data updated June 2022)
Since March 2019, we have worked with the Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services to conduct long-term monitoring of the local mosquito population, observing how Wolbachia works in unique environments like Kiribati. We will provide epidemiology expertise to help determine the level of impact of our project.
Our method is greatly supported by governments and embraced by local communities around the world. In our other project sites, long-term monitoring shows that Wolbachia is self-sustaining at high levels up to eight years after release.
In areas where high levels of Wolbachia are present, we have not seen any dengue outbreaks.
The World Mosquito Program has worked with the community in South Tarawa, including Betio.