DISSECT: Developing innovative scalable solutions to entomology gaps and cross-border transmission of onchocerciasis

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Main objectives

Through a focus on entomology, DISSECT aims to fill four critical gaps and progress toward the elimination of onchocerciasis in the project countries of Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire.

The four critical gaps are:

  • Lack of operational guidance for standardised entomological data collection
  • The need to replace human landing capture with a safer, more standardised alternative
  • Outdated methods of breeding site identification and monitoring
  • The need to improve capacity for analysing entomological samples within endemic countries


The project aims to advance progress towards onchocerciasis elimination by developing novel, integrated and scalable onchocerciasis entomological data collection tools. This will enable assessment of onchocerciasis transmission, generating high quality data for elimination dossiers and programmatic decision making. This will give countries a clear picture of the disease burden.

By developing and piloting a toolkit to operationalise World Health Organization (WHO) entomological guidance, we aim to standardise entomological data collection practice, strengthening data collection and analysis and laboratory capacity (making high-quality data collection accessible to national programmes), as well as advancing progress towards the elimination of onchocerciasis and other vector-borne diseases.

Developing an optimised blackfly trap along with a metric for using it to understand transmission has the expected impact of removing unethical human landing catches. A remote breeding site identification tool should increase comprehensiveness of transmission zone characterisation at lower cost and greater safety. This means fewer transmission zones that threaten elimination will go undetected and untreated. Replacing human landing capture and remote identification of breeding sites will ease implementation everywhere, but particularly in cross-border transmission zones, where the free movement of people is often compromised.

Added value of the study

DISSECT will improve the evidence base for:

  • Onchocerciasis programmes to strengthen and standardise entomological monitoring, as required for assessing the interruption of transmission and post elimination surveillance
  • Shifting away from antiquated and ethically questionable human land capture (HLC) operations
  • Integrated vector monitoring
  • Developing strategic approaches to international/cross-border collaboration, applicable to the elimination of other NTDs

Policy and practice implications

Outcomes of DISSECT will guide the refinement of practices within cross-border foci of onchocerciasis. These adjustments can be applied to other NTDs which face matching challenges.

The investigation of novel trapping methods could influence Ministry of Health (MoH) and WHO policy documents to move away from outdated HLC reliance.

The combination of vector activities could influence MoH practices and funding for spatially sympatric vector-borne diseases.

Study details
Start date
December 2021
Finish date
March 2024
01/12/2021 to 31/03/2024
Main contact
Louise Hamill
Director of Lymphatic Filariasis and Onchocerciasis Technical Unit, NTDs
Richard Selby
Head of Portfolio - NTD Research
Policy and Programme Strategy
  • Global Institute for Disease Elimination
  • Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
  • Ministry of Health, Ghana
  • National Public Health and Reference Laboratory (Accra, Ghana)
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) (Accra, Ghana)
  • Ministry of Health, Mozambique
  • National Institute of Health, Lab
  • Ministry of Health, Malawi
  • University of Malawi, Laboratory
  • Ministry of Health, Cote D’Ivoire
  • Pierre Richet Institute, National Public Health Laboratory