Australia commits $3 million to assist in the elimination of dengue fever in Laos

Monash University

Monash University’s World Mosquito Program receives significant funding to further research and manage the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in Laos.

Monash University’s World Mosquito Program (WMP) has received significant funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to fund research to manage the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in Laos.

The second phase of the project to combat mosquito-borne diseases in Laos, was announced by Prime Minister Albanese and HE Mr Sonexay Siphandone, Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic at the ASEAN Special Summit. The signed agreement will strengthen ties between Australia and Laos to a Comprehensive Partnership.

Monash University Provost and Senior Vice-President, Professor Susan Elliott AM, welcomed dignitaries from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) Ms Megan Jones, Australia’s Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Mr David Christie representing the Gillespie Family Foundation and Mr Matt Tinkler, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Australia for a behind-the-scenes tour of the WMP’s laboratories located at Monash’s Clayton campus.

The next phase of the World Mosquito Program’s Wolbachia method rollout in Laos will be implemented in partnership between the Lao PDR Ministry of Health and Save the Children to target the country’s dengue hotspots.

“Funded by a $3 million commitment from the Australian Government and further support from long-standing philanthropic partners the Gillespie Family Foundation, this significant announcement equips the WMP with the resources to expand the Wolbachia method to more provinces in Laos from June this year,” Professor Elliott said.

The funding support from Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will enable the project to help protect more communities from mosquito-borne diseases in the capital, Vientiane.

It follows a successful deployment of Wolbachia in the Chanthabouly & Xaysettha districts, which helped protect 32 villages with a combined population of 86,000 people. Releases concluded in August 2023, and public acceptance of the mosquito releases was 99 per cent.

Currently operational in 14 countries, the method of breeding and releasing mosquitoes with the Wolbachia bacteria has proven successful in reducing the transmission of dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.

“The WMP’s expansion in Laos displays the powerful benefits of collaborating with government and global networks to transition research into tangible health improvements for the betterment of our communities. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear from the Prime Minister of Laos and I am optimistic of our partnership strengthening in the future,” Professor Elliott said.

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