In rural south-eastern Tanzania, where malaria prevalence has reduced by >60% since 2000, low-to-moderate transmission still persists despite very high coverage with long-lasting insecticidal bednets. Like in most residual transmission settings in east-Africa, populations of the formerly notorious malaria vector (known us, Anopheles gambiae), have significantly diminished or completely vanished. Today, a different species (Anopheles arabiensis) dominates in numbers, but the far more competent vector called, Anopheles funestus now transmits most of the residual malaria parasites, despite occurring in far smaller numbers. Unfortunately, the vector is also resistant to pyrethroids used on bednets. It survives unexpectedly longer, has a highly cryptic aquatic ecology, and bites people both indoors and outdoors, therefore requiring new innovative approaches. With the funding from Howard Hughes-Gates International Scholarship, we will consolidate our previous research findings and efforts in developing techniques for surveillance and control of malaria vectors, to finally demonstrate that we can stop local malaria transmission by eliminating An. funestus mosquitoes, which now transmit 9 in every 10 malaria infections, in the historically high-transmission villages in Ulanga and Kilombero districts in south-eastern Tanzania. The nucleated human settlements, and the clustering of mosquito densities both geographically and temporally, indicate that such targeted interventions would be very effective in these areas.
During this project, we will also strengthen, expand and transform our research team into a hub of highly skilled implementers, researchers and opinion leaders to effectively support local, national and international efforts against vector-borne diseases in future