Simulium surveillance and control in Mahenge, Tanzania: time to think bigger and utilize drone-based remote sensing technology
Despite the ongoing onchocerciasis control program that has been in place in Mahenge for more than two decades using the Community Directed Treatment with Ivermectin (CDTI) strategy, the persistent transmission of onchocerciasis has been observed, proving that CDTI alone is unable to interrupt the transmission. This letter aims to highlight how drone-based remote sensing technology can be utilized for Simulium surveillance and control in Mahenge and suggest measures that can be employed to initiate the vector control intervention using the proposed technology in Mahenge. The drone-based technology in Mahenge could assist in the identification of Simulium breeding sites even in inaccessible parts of rivers and streams, mapping the microenvironmental composition, and suggesting potential control measures, including whether to apply larviciding using drones or where the ground control effort of slashing and clearing should be prioritized. Therefore, now is an opportune time to combine CDTI and Simulium control interventions to achieve sustainable onchocerciasis control in Mahenge.