Vectors of public health significance—such as mosquitos that are known to transmit diseases like malaria and dengue fever—are found in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), giving rise to the important role that national designated Points of Entry have in the prevention and control of infectious diseases.
The International Health Regulations (IHR) require designated Points of Entry to keep premises and environment clean of vectors at a minimum of 400 meters in order to prevent spread of disease.
In June, 30 national representatives including port health, sanitary inspectors, entomologists and malaria specialists and others gathered in Muscat, Oman, to pilot test a new WHO Handbook for Vector Surveillance and Control at Ports, Airports, and Ground Crossings. The pilot also tested newly developed training materials and a global Vector Identification Platform.
The pilot testing event took place in a national Point of Entry in Oman; the Muscat International Airport – where many relevant stakeholders with diverse technical profiles participated over the four days. In addition, beyond the central Muscat level, representation of the governates was also provided with attendees coming from the Dhofar, Musandam, Al Buraimi, Al Wusta, North Batinah, and South Sharquiyah areas in Oman.
The new WHO Handbook provides an overview of diverse vectors of highest concern at a Point of Entry and covers the necessary surveillance and control measures too. The Vector Identification Platform presents a user-friendly algorithm to help quickly identify the most significant vectors for public health threats present at a Point of Entry. The Platform uses key features to facilitate vector identification by PoE staff that may have little or no entomological training.
Participants attended site visits to the insectary and the international airport in Muscat with facilitators demonstrating key technical elements, including sampling techniques. Other highlights included a practical session on the identification of mosquitos, and user testing of the Vector Identification Platform.
This testing mission has been instrumental for finalizing the technical materials and strengthening overall user-friendliness of the Handbook and Platform for global audiences.