Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on Project Wolbachia by Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and the Environment
Ms Yeo Wan Ling: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) whether there has been an increasing number of feedback received on insect or mosquito bites in areas where Project Wolbachia was introduced despite that these male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes do not bite; and (b) whether the Ministry will provide resources to residents or neighbourhoods experiencing such a situation to address these feedback.
1 At the start of Wolbachia-Aedes releases in new areas, the National Environment Agency (NEA) typically receives an increased number of feedback relating to mosquitoes. While the male mosquitoes released do not bite, their increased presence can be noticeable to residents. The increase in feedback is however temporary as residents become accustomed to the programme.
2 NEA’s data shows that after a few months of releases, the population of the wild-type Aedes aegypti mosquito falls to very low levels, decreasing by up to 98%. Bites from these mosquitoes are correspondingly significantly reduced. This is evident in the reduction of dengue cases by up to 70% observed in study sites with at least one year of releases. However, as Wolbachia-Aedes technology does not affect other species of mosquitoes, residents may still experience some bites from such mosquitoes.
3 NEA regularly engages residents on Project Wolbachia at the study sites. These communication and outreach activities are done prior to releases and include door-to-door distribution of publicity materials, display of posters and banners at high footfall areas and sharing of information via traditional and social media platforms. NEA also engages establishments such as childcare centres and schools within the release areas.
4 Source reduction remains the key strategy to control the populations of all types of mosquitoes. NEA will continue to work with the community and other stakeholders in carrying out mosquito control measures, including the regular practice of the Mozzie Wipeout ‘B-L-O-C-K’ steps. Residents can also take the ‘Spray, Apply, Wear’ ‘S-A-W’ actions to prevent mosquito bites.