Strengthening surveillance and response for vector-borne diseases

Courtesy of Burnet Institute

The rise of new infectious diseases is a growing challenge to global health, even more so in resource-limited settings.

There is a pressing need to monitor, quickly diagnose and have accessible data on infectious diseases and drug resistance to inform decision-making.

The STRIVE project has worked collaboratively with a consortium of partners to strengthen the health system and workforce capabilities within Papua New Guinea to do just that.

Funded by the Australian Government through the Partnerships for a Healthy Region Initiative, STRIVE is now in its fifth year and will be supporting priority pilot activities in two additional Melanesian countries (to be announced) to strengthen integrated vector-borne disease surveillance and response capacity.

STRIVE will continue to work alongside national and local partners in Papua New Guinea.

National Malaria Control Program Manager at the PNG Department of Health and Program Director of STRIVE, Leo Makita, said the introduction of vector activities such as insecticide resistance monitoring and longitudinal larval habitat surveillance, are some of STRIVE’s key achievements.

“Through close collaboration with [PNG] provincial health authorities, STRIVE was able to establish key priority areas and develop vector control and surveillance activity plans,” he said.

“These were contextualised to suit each province and recognise vector surveillance and control as a crucial component of malaria and other vector-borne disease control programs.”

Burnet Program Director of STRIVE, Professor Leanne Robinson, said there are numerous challenges for vector-borne disease surveillance and control in our region.

These include drug and insecticide resistance, timely access to up-to-date data for effective interventions, and resourcing across health systems and workforces.

“Through STRIVE there is the opportunity for leaders across PNG and neighbouring Melanesian countries to develop tailored country-led activities and work together to address these challenges,” she said.

The STRIVE team uses a partnership-based approach that facilitates knowledge and resource sharing and ensures decision-making is undertaken collaboratively with country priorities at the forefront.

Deputy Director at the PNG Institute of Medical Research and Program Director of STRIVE, Dr Moses Laman, said STRIVE has helped strengthen local systems and capabilities.

“In PNG it is always a big challenge to build any laboratory capacity, but the STRIVE project really enabled us to build the Molecular hub from the ground up,” he said.

“We have now expanded the program of research beyond malaria and arboviruses into respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19, as well as other vaccine-preventable diseases and neglected tropical diseases, so that the data generated can be used to inform decision-making in PNG.”

Learn more about STRIVE here.

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