What is or should be the role of government in tsetse control?

The older methods of tsetse control, such as ground spraying and aerial spraying, were only successful if applied on a very large scale, and only government agencies had the financial and logistical capacity to undertake such operations. However, the development and uptake of bait technologies means that there has been a general shift towards privately-funded, small-scale operations which do not necessitate direct government involvement.

Nonetheless, governments can still make several important contributions to the success of these local operations.

First, they need to form national policies that will discourage unrestricted use of pyrethroids and trypanocides which could lead to the rapid development of resistance in tick and trypanosome populations; Boophilus spp. have already developed resistance to pyrethroids in South Africa and Zimbabwe and there is widespread resistance to trypanocides (Geerts et al., 2001). This risk is likely to increase as patents for pyrethroids expire and local production increases with concomitant increases in availability and reductions in price. In a similar vein, governments can also help prevent the unrestricted use of pyrethroids leading to enzootic instability for tick-borne diseases (Van den Bossche & Mudenge, 1999).

Governments also have an important role in easing national-level procurement problems. Particularly problematic areas include the importation of attractants, drugs and insecticides.

Finally, governments can also assist local control schemes by encouraging co-ordinated actions by local communities and by promoting best practice in the use of the various technologies: for example, by harmonising rates of subsidy across local programmes. Small-scale control schemes will be much more cost-effective if they are carried out in concert with other local operations.