Research, Technology and High Learning Minister, Muhammad Nasir, has appreciated the research conducted by UGM on Aedes aegypti mosquito that has been developed using wolbachia bacteria in the effort to eliminate dengue fever. According to Nasir, the research applied in some areas in Yogyakarta had shown significant results. The minister said that he would try to apply the programme to other areas as well. “If this programme runs well, I would request the Health Minister to apply the programme to all areas of Indonesia,” said the Minister when having a dialogue on Tuesday (26/4) with the residents of Kronggahan II in Sleman regency that has become the area for wolbachia mosquito distribution since 2014.
The Minister visited the laboratory of UGM where the wolbachia mosquito research has been done in recent years. The results have been satisfactory in minimising dengue fever. “The research has gone a long time and produced good results for society. I would ask UGM to produce useful mosquitoes to eliminate dengue fever cases,” he said.
The Wolbachia bacteria in the Ae. Aegypti mosquito is known to inhibit the growth of dengue virus, so the mosquito is unable to contract the dengue fever. Female mosquito with wolbachia mating with a male which is non-wolbachia will produce offsprings with wolbachia. On the other hand, a male mosquito containing wolbachia that mates with a non-wolbachia female will produce eggs that fail to hatch.
The Minister further appreciated the residents for their willingness to receive the wolbachia mosquitoes being released to their homes. “I would like to highly appreciate the local people here that have accepted the new technology to eradicate the mosquito that causes dengue fever,” he said.
Village chief of Trihanggo, Herman Budi Pramono, before the Eliminate Dengue Project (EDP) programme was conducted by UGM researchers, cases of dengue fever were rampant there. During socialisation of EDP, it was not surprising that some people rejected it. “There were some pros and cons during the socialisation as people have different views. Why eliminating fever with releasing mosquitoes? Some received it, some not. Then we had done socialisation a number of times until there were none rejecting it,” he said.
A resident, Sukamti, said she had been worried with the Wolbachia mosquito release after one of her friends died due to the dengue fever. “In the beginning I was surprised with this mosquito release. But after the EDP programme, now women here have grown enthusiastic in doing prevention, removing any mosquito nests and stagnant water,” she said.
Dr. Warsito Tantowijoyo, EDP UGM researcher, said prior to releasing the Wolbachia mosquito to Kronggahan in 2014, they need to take the insects directly from the area to be united with a female mosquito with Wolbachia. “Why (it has to be directly) from the area in concern is because we need to adjust to the mosquito endurance. Each mosquito from a certain area has its own characteristics,” he said.
Previously, adult mosquites were releases. Now, the researchers release mosquito eggs directly to the residents’ homes. “We could produce up to 120 thousands eggs each week,” he said.
Prior to the visit to Kronggahan, at the entomology lab of UGM, Rector of UGM, Prof. Ir. Dwikorita Karnawati, M.Sc., Ph.D., that accompanied the Minister expressed her hopes following this particular research. “We hope this mini-factory project like what has been done on Aedes Aegypti with wolbachia research would not stop here. Hopefully, this can be developed further, useful for the society,” said the Rector.
Prof. dr. Adi Utarini, M.Sc, Ph.D., project leader of EDP-Yogya, further gave a presentation on the research. Plans are underway to release the wolbachia mosquito to extended areas.
Visiting the entomology lab at the Faculty of Medicine UGM, the Minister witnessed the breeding of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes containing Wolbachia and blood feeding process.