Rwanda will by the end of this month start using drones in spraying mosquito prone areas as it steps up efforts to eliminate malaria.
According to Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), the pilot phase will begin in Gasabo District before being rolled out to other parts of the country by the end this year.
“It is (spraying mosquitos using drones) planned to start by end 2019. The drones are already available through Charis UAS and the Bti product is being procured,” Nsanzimana disclosed.
Charis Unmanned Aerial Solutions is a local drone technology company while Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis (Bti) is a bacteria found in soil and used as an insecticide that kills premature mosquitoes known as larvae.
“The pilot or feasibility phase is planned in Gasabo District. Thereafter, other districts will be covered targeting marshlands.”
Officials earlier said that the drones can fly for about 15 minutes on a single battery and spray an area of 40 hectares in a single day.
A few African countries, including Malawi have successfully deployed the drones in mapping and spraying mosquito breeding areas.
A mosquito-borne disease, malaria is a life-threatening illness.
Last year, Rwanda accelerated efforts to eliminate malaria launching larviciding and spatial manual spraying to control mosquitoes from breeding.
Launched in Kamonyi District, the initiative targeted mosquitoes breeding habitats.
The drones and manual spraying initiatives come to supplement the already existent measures against malaria, among them, mass distribution of bed nets, malaria case management in communities where community health workers are equipped to screen and treat malaria, free malaria treatment for Rwandans in Ubudehe 1 and 2 social clusters, and indoor residual spraying in malaria prone districts.