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Rwanda is deploying this new weapon in fight against malaria

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CNBCAFRICA 12 MAR 2020

Over 90 per cent of malaria cases in 2018 were recorded in the African region according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Rwanda, over 3 million people are infected by the disease and the country has launched a drive to use drones in spraying pesticides in mosquito breeding sites.

Drone-delivered Larvicide

Aerial imagery can map out terrain, identify potential mosquito breeding sites, and even predict which bodies of water we should prioritize for treatment. After gathering this critical intelligence, spraying drones can be flown over these sites to deliver a larviciding agent, Aquatain AMF. 

An aside on Aquatain AMF

Aquatain AMF, or polydimethylsiloxane, is a silicon-based liquid developed specifically for mosquito larvicide. This clear liquid’s density is just a bit lower than water, but it has a high viscosity, so it feels like honey. When a small amount of Aquatain is applied to a body of water, it spreads across the surface where it sits/rests as a thin film.

When mosquito larvae and pupae swim to the surface to breathe, they encounter the Aquatain layer which serves as a barrier and prevents them from breathing atmospheric oxygen.

Within two days, all of the mosquito larvae and pupae perish/drown. As an added bonus, female egg-bearing mosquitoes also tend to not lay their eggs on Aquatain-treated water and choose to find another location.

Silicones, like the ones in Aquatain, are some of the world’s most widely used polymers and are inert, non-toxic, biodegradable. Gradually over the course of 3-4 weeks, UV rays from the sun break the Aquatain down at an atomic level, leaving the water it’s in drinkable afterwards.

This is essential because, for applications on bodies of water like irrigated rice paddies, while traditional application of chemical insecticides would cause damage to the crops and those tending and eating the rice, Aquatain is harmless. Critically, the mechanism of action for Aquatain is entirely physical, rather than chemical, so mosquitoes can’t develop a resistance to its effects.

Aquatain has already been approved by the WHO, and there is no shortage of scientific evidence of its efficacy. 

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