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Book Review: Integrated Vector Management, by Graham Matthews

December 7, 2011 - 10:38 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Book Details
Matthews, J.R.: Integrated Vector Management. Wiley-Blackwell; 2011, 234 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-4706-5966-3 (hardcover)
When around the world discussions are ongoing on how best to sustain successes in malaria control gained over the last decade, particularly in the African region, this book by Emeritus Professor Graham Matthews comes as a welcome volume to put things into perspective.
It’s the first of its kind to focus on Integrated Vector Management (IVM), following the release of the Global Strategic Framework for IVM by WHO seven years ago [1], and brings an unusual mix of operational details and academic insight that will be of value to anyone interested in IVM with a focus on malaria. Yet this mix also has a downside in that many topics are covered only superficially which may leave the reader with questions unanswered.
For instance, Matthews states that ‘the benefits of DDT in controlling malaria outweigh some disadvantages’ only later to argue against it by saying that ‘maintaining that DDT is safe ignores the cumulative indications of many studies’. Constant flow valves in compression sprayers are discussed in great detail but insecticide waste disposal is covered in only two sentences. Within a single paragraph, the author covers mosquito abatement in the USA, Village Health Teams that use rapid diagnostics in Cameroon, use of ACTs, and misdiagnosis of malaria. No doubt interesting, but this may be somewhat much for the newcomer in the field of malaria.
Nevertheless, the book can serve as a good starting point for those interested in IVM, with chapters on Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), space treatment, insecticide-treated bednets and impregnated clothing, larviciding, and IVM. The two final chapters focus on other vectors of importance in tropical public health and an outlook on methods and techniques that may one day become mainstream components of the IVM toolbox, like biological control or genetically engineered mosquitoes.
Covering all these components of vector control in a comprehensive manner isn’t easy in a mere 234 pages, let alone when more than one disease is covered. Because of this, sometimes the jump between vectors of different diseases (notably between mosquitoes and blackflies) becomes a little confusing.  Regretfully also, although the author proves highly authoritative on ‘old’ literature, he merely adds the latest developments on any given subject in a few sentences and a few references without providing more detail on the evolution of technologies and approaches. For instance, much detail is provided on old ways of bednet impregnation, at community level, even though most nets today are long-lasting and treated during the manufacturing stage. It would have been nice to read about future developments in bednet technology, how the world will handle resistance issues, and how sustained use and availability can be guaranteed.
Ultimately, the different tactics come together in one chapter of some 20 pages titled ‘Integrated Vector Management’. Here the concept of IVM is described in line with that of the World Health Organization, but quickly the focus is diverted away from true integration to discussing individual tools. Here the difficulties of the concept of IVM become apparent – in theory the concept is sound, but in practice it proves to be very difficult and is hardly implemented at present. Yet a good example provided, of IVM in Zambia, is encouraging. Ultimately the book provides little to cover its title, which is not surprising though, given the paucity of good IVM examples. 
Finally, although the malaria world is talking about elimination and eradication again since 2007, Matthews focuses primarily on control and a pledge for involvement of communities. Exactly how IVM should be seen in the context of elimination and eradication is missing. Instead, the last chapter focuses on possible new tools for the limited ‘toolbox’, and briefly discusses new possible (bio)pesticides, and the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes.
Matthews has done a great job in describing the many options we have to control vector-borne diseases, but it proved difficult to have a strong focus on IVM. Nevertheless, both for those starting in the field, as well as veterans, the book is of value and a worthy addition to the limited number of recent books on the topic.
1. World Health Organization (2004). Global  Strategic Framework for Integrated Vector Management.
List of Abbreviations used
IVM: Integrated Vector Management
WHO: World Health Organization