Finished online event
Ana Marija Grancaric
Virginia Sanz Sánchez
Secretary & Treasury
Head of Software Development Unit
Iván Hernández Suárez
Vocal and advisor of innovation
Jose Carlos Tiago de Oliveira
Center Philosophy of Sciences UNESCO Chair "Intangible Heritage"
Associate Professor, University of Évora
IMAAC an EU funded Action involving around 120 experts and scientists from 40 countries aims at investigation and mathematical analysis of the effect of avant-garde control measures in vector-borne diseases involving day-time active mosquitos transmitting diseases like dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. The control measures involve new technologies in textile and paint products based on nano- and micro-particles releasing repellents or pesticides in well proportioned dosage. The study will also be expanded to scenarios using vaccines in combination with mentioned control techniques. The main focus will be on dengue fever transmitted via Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes in synergy with existing EU-projects, but the application will also have positive effects on other vector-borne diseases.
Nano- and micro-particles are used in textile production for various purposes and can be used to release chemicals like repellents and insecticides in a well-controlled rate. First attempts in this direction have been made, but no efficacy studies could be performed yet. The spectrum of combinations of nano- or micro-particles, repellents, insecticides and types of textiles (or paint) has not been well studied. Especially, efficacy studies in cases using these control measures in combination with vaccines are unchartered territories and mathematical modelling has to be developed.
IMAAC aims to bring together experts from epidemiology, biostatistics, mathematics, biology, nano-technology, chemical and textile engineering to implement new techniques to combat mosquito transmitted vector-borne diseases. The key question remains, in how far such avant-garde measures can help to reduce the disease burden, eventually in collaboration with existing vaccines which turned out to have only limited efficacy on their own.
IMAAC-next is a Scientific Association funded in 2019 in Fuerteventura (Canary Islands/Spain) to coordinate and continue the work of IMAAC after the end of the Action in March 2022. The location of this association is chosen on the Canary Islands conveniently located between Europe, Africa and America.
Besides the establishment of a platform for experts to tackle the worldwide problem of vector-borne diseases, IMAAC-next is also dedicated to training a new generation of young talented researchers especially in Africa combatting vector-borne diseases. This also includes working in cooperation with Health-Industry solving these complex issues.
IMAAC-next is in close cooperation with Afrimac and the Government of Canary Islands transforming Fuerteventura into an “Island of Science” committed to building a hub for VBD and Bio-mathematic research according to the signed “Valença Manifesto” signed on the 5th of April 2019 by many scientists and politicians.
Vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious pathogens between humans, or from animals to humans. Many of these vectors are bloodsucking insects, which ingest disease-producing microorganisms during a blood meal from an infected host (human or animal) and later transmit it into a new host, after the pathogen has replicated. Often, once a vector becomes infectious, they are capable of transmitting the pathogen for the rest of their life during each subsequent bite/blood meal.
Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases. They can be caused by either parasites, bacteria or viruses. The WHO estimates that one-sixth of the illness and disability suffered worldwide is owing to vector-borne diseases, with more than half of the world’s population currently at risk. Every year, more than one billion people are infected, and more than one million people die from vector-borne diseases. Common vector-borne diseases include malaria, dengue, chikungunya fever, Zika virus fever, yellow fever, West Nile fever, Japanese encephalitis.
Important progress has been made against vector-borne diseases, through a combination of poverty alleviation and socioeconomic development, increased access to health services, larger scale and more coordinated control programmes, and the development and deployment of more effective interventions. As a result of these successes, the proportional contribution of vector-borne diseases to global mortality has fallen in recent years. Nonetheless, important challenges remain. Not all vector-borne diseases are decreasing in incidence globally, and some diseases such as malaria, which are decreasing at the global scale, are stable or increasing in specific locations. In addition, the sustainability of the gains that have been made in combatting vector-borne disease is at risk from factors such as insecticide and drug resistance, the difficulties in maintaining political will and resources for disease control programmes as incidence is driven to low levels, and the potential for spread 1 or re-emergence of diseases, with potentially much greater health impacts in populations that have lost immunity (e.g. malaria). Continued progress in controlling these diseases is therefore an important contribution to global health, development and security.
A crucial element in reducing the burden of vector-borne diseases is behavioural change. There is need to provide more education and improve public awareness, so that people know how to protect themselves and their communities from mosquitoes, ticks, bugs, flies and other vectors. There is need for epidemiologic assessment of interventions and a carefully designed combination of vector control with vaccines.