Building Capacity for Surveillance

University students on a work experience program in front of the newly built entomology research complex at Nasarawa State University, Keffi. Photo by: Okeke Ifeanyi Joseph

According to the 2017 World Malaria Report, Nigeria accounts for 27 percent of all malaria cases across the globe – the highest of any other country. Effective malaria control programs require strong entomological research institutes and entomologists to allow for effective, data-driven decision making for vector control. Since 2008, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) has worked in partnership with the Government of Nigeria to strengthen the country’s capacity in entomological research. In 2017, PMI launched the PMI VectorLink Project, which continues to support Nigeria at the national and state level, carrying out vector surveillance activities in seven PMI-supported Nigerian states.

Through the PMI-funded Africa Indoor Residual Project, a predecessor to the PMI VectorLink Project, PMI collaborated with the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, in 2013, to establish the first insectary in North Central Nigeria. The PMI-funded insectary provided a supply of susceptible colonies of Anopheles gambiae s.s. (Kisumu strain), the mosquito most commonly found to carry malaria. The colonies were used to carry out wall bioassays for entomological monitoring during indoor residual spraying (IRS) in Nasarawa State as well as for other entomological research in the country. Up until 2017, the insectary supported entomological surveillance activities at the Nasarawa State sentinel site and provided students with hands-on experience and support with their postgraduate research. The university introduced a postgraduate program in Applied Entomology and Parasitology in the Department of Zoology to help build a cadre of qualified entomologists.

“The collaboration between the Nasarawa State University and the PMI VectorLink Project has led to the strengthening in capacity of our students to conveniently engage in meaningful research, in addition to exposing them to international research standards and methods,” said Dr. Ombugada Ruth Jamila, Head of Department, Zoology at Nasarawa State University, Keffi. “We will continue to appreciate the commitment of the PMI VectorLink Project in promoting academic development and malaria vector control in Nigeria.”

In 2018, the university completed construction of a fully-equipped laboratory complex dedicated to entomological research and to the training of students in the field of medical entomology. The complex includes a general laboratory, a taxonomy/resistance studies unit, a molecular research lab, an insectary, a data repository, presentation rooms, lecture halls, and office spaces. In addition to supporting the university in entomological research and capacity building, the laboratory will also support the PMI VectorLink Project in putting vector control as a key approach to prevent and eliminate malaria in Nigeria.