Henry Frempong Owusu

Henry Frempong Owusu

Country: Ghana, Date of birth: 1981
PhD Student Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
Research Area: Epidemiology, Vector Control

Supported Project: “Improving Experimental Procedures for Vector Control and Product Development”

“Vector control has been going on for years and there are still many unanswered questions.”

Originally he wanted to become a medical doctor but now, Henry Owusu sits in a laboratory in the basement of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), sucks mosquitoes from a cage and blows them gently into a tube. “Looking for answers to basic questions is fascinating”, says the scientist. One such question is how to measure increasing insecticide resistance within mosquito populations – the topic of his PhD research, supported by the R. Geigy Foundation. The measurement devices currently used are not adequate because they simply do not measure the same thing. The WHO’s tube assay requires one to expose the mosquitoes (to insecticides) for one hour, take them out and keep them for 24 hours and then check how many of them died. In contrast, the CDC’s bottle assay requires exposing mosquitoes for a maximum of two hours and then record how many mosquitoes dropped at the end of that period. In short, one test measures mortality whereas the other just reports knock-downs. “It is surprising”, says Owusu, “that the problem of insecticide resistance is huge but the methodology to monitor it is just inadequate.” Owusu hopes that his research will push WHO to introduce and promote a consistent methodology. “I really hope to wake them up so that they say: yes, we need a complete change.“