Would the control of invasive alien plants reduce malaria transmission? A review
Published: February, 2018
Vector control has been the most effective preventive measure against malaria and other vector-borne diseases. However, due to concerns such as insecticide resistance and budget shortfalls, an integrated control approach will be required to ensure sustainable, long-term effectiveness. An integrated management strategy should entail some aspects of environmental management, relying on coordination between various scientific disciplines. Here, we review one such environmental control tactic: invasive alien plant management. This covers salient plant-mosquito interactions for both terrestrial and aquatic invasive plants and how these affect a vector’s ability to transmit malaria. Invasive plants tend to have longer flowering durations, more vigorous growth, and their spread can result in an increase in biomass, particularly in areas where previously little vegetation existed. Some invasive alien plants provide shelter or resting sites for adult mosquitoes and are also attractive nectar-producing hosts, enhancing their vectorial capacity. We conclude that these plants may increase malaria transmission rates in certain environments, though many questions still need to be answered, to determine how often this conclusion holds. However, in the case of aquatic invasive plants, available evidence suggests that the management of these plants would contribute to malaria control. We also examine and review the opportunities for large-scale invasive alien plant management, including options for biological control. Finally, we highlight the research priorities that must be addressed in order to ensure that integrated vector and invasive alien plant management operate in a synergistic fashion.
The global cost of invasive species is estimated at US$1.4 trillion per year – close to 5% of global gross domestic product. Invasives disproportionately affect vulnerable communities in poor rural areas, especially in developing countries which depend on natural resources, healthy ecosystems, trade and tourism for their livelihoods.
Start: 02/01/18 -End: 31/03/21