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Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response

Vector control standard 1: Individual and family protection

All disaster-affected people have the knowledge and the means to protect themselves from disease and nuisance vectors that are likely to cause a significant risk to health or well-being.

Key actions (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)

Key indicators (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)


Guidance notes
  1. Defining vector-borne disease risk: Decisions about vector control interventions should be based on an assessment of potential disease risk, as well as on clinical evidence of a vector-borne disease problem. Factors influencing this risk include: 

    - immunity status of the population, including previous exposure, nutritional stress and other stresses. Movement of people (e.g. refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs)) from a non-endemic to an endemic area is a common cause of epidemic

    - pathogen type and prevalence, in both vectors and humans

    - vector species, behaviours and ecology

    - vector numbers (season, breeding sites, etc.)

    - increased exposure to vectors: proximity, settlement pattern, shelter type, existing individual protection and avoidance measures  

  2. Indicators for vector control programmes: Commonly used indicators for measuring the impact of vector control activities are vector-borne disease incidence rates (from epidemiological data, community-based data and proxy indicators, depending on the response) and parasite counts (usin rapid diagnostic kits or microscopy).
  3. Individual malaria protection measures: If there is a significant risk of malaria, the systematic and timely provision of protection measures is recommended, such as insecticide-treated materials, e.g. tents, curtains and bed nets. Impregnated bed nets have the added advantage of giving some protection against body and head lice, fleas, ticks, cockroaches and bedbugs. Long-sleeved clothing, household fumigants, burning coils, aerosol sprays and repellents are among other protection methods that can be used against mosquitoes. It is vital to ensure that users understand the importance of protection and how to use the tools correctly so that the protection measures are effective. Where resources are scarce, they should be directed at individuals and groups most at risk, such as children under 5 years old, non-immunes and pregnant women.
  4. Individual protection measures for other vectors: Good personal hygiene and regular washing of clothes and bedding are the most effective protection against body lice. Infestations can be controlled by personal treatment (powdering), mass laundering or delousing campaigns and by treatment protocols as newly displaced people arrive in a settlement. A clean household environment, together with good waste disposal and good food storage (cooked and uncooked), will deter rats, other rodents and insects (such as cockroaches) from entering houses or shelters.
  5. Water-borne diseases: People should be informed of health risks and should avoid entering bodies of water where there is a known risk of contracting diseases such as schistosomiasis, Guinea worm or leptospirosis (transmitted by exposure to mammalian urine, especially that of rats – see Appendix 4: Water- and excreta-related diseases and transmission mechanisms). Agencies may need to work with the affected population to find alternative sources of water or ensure that water for all uses is appropriately treated.