Some scientists have proposed genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes as a solution to controlling malaria, a scourge that has been around for centuries and is spread by mosquitoes.
I am skeptical that this is the answer.
First, more studies need to be done on GM mosquitoes to ascertain safety and avoid unintended consequences before releasing them into the field. African countries do not have the infrastructure needed to regulate or solve any problem that may arise from this technology.
Second, it is unethical to release such a technology without consulting or speaking to the actual residents.
Finally, I think it is important for us to learn from the experience of other places where more conventional tools, including conventional vector control, have worked against malaria—most recently, in Sri Lanka, which has been certified as malaria-free by the World Health Organization without resorting to genetically modified mosquitoes. Even in the age of drug resistance, some countries have still managed to attain elimination status. Why should Africa be different?
While innovations in science have been important in controlling malaria in Africa, they should never be the only focus. Sanitary engineering; getting rid of mosquito breeding sites; and swamp drainage are some of the interventions that have helped in the past and have proven to be sustainable solutions.
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