By Sharon Atieno

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the Global Arbovirus initiative to tackle the rising trend in arboviruses- viruses transmitted by insects that bite and feed on blood such as Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika and Yellow Fever.

These four diseases transmitted by the Aedes mosquitoes are the focus of the initiative which is a collaborative effort between the World Health Emergencies Programme, the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, and the Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals Department.

The integrated initiative is centered on six main pillars which include monitoring risk and anticipation, reducing epidemic risk in the local levels and strengthening vector control, preventing and preparing for pandemics, building a coalition of partners and enhancing innovation and new approaches.

In monitoring risk and anticipation, the aim is to develop an integrated data system using existing surveillance data and other data sources,  being able to map the at risk and vulnerable areas for Aedes borne viruses that can emerge or re-emerge, and having a global integrated dash board including multiple data sources. Once the system is established, it will enable forecasting and modelling pandemic scenarios for these viruses.

In pillar two which is aimed at reducing epidemic risk in the local levels the focus is to strengthen countries’ capacities for preparedness, early detection, confirmation and immediate epidemiological investigations to be able to carry out an effective response to outbreaks in order to reduce their impact.

To strengthen vector control, there are three priority actions which include enhancing environmental and vector surveillance, strengthening a cross-sectorial vector control and increasing preparedness in urban and densely populated areas.

Pillar four also focuses on three priority actions which comprise enhancing global coordination among stakeholders and partners towards these integrated approach, strengthening global surveillance mechanisms for rapid response, increasing capacities of countries to diagnose and monitor arboviral diseases and co-circulating arboviruses and strengthening community resilience.

The fifth pillar aims to enhance intervention and new approaches through developing integrated public health research agenda for Aedes-borne diseases, supporting development of innovative countermeasures for arboviruses including vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, vector control tools, biomarkers among others, and developing new tools and approaches for public health preparedness and response.

The last pillar aims to build a coalition of partners by strengthening partnerships among different stakeholders and partners, enhancing communication with stakeholders from multiple sectors and building new partnerships.