The Acting Governor of Bali, Sang Made Mahendra Jaya, has publicly addressed the suspension of the Wolbachia mosquito program, a strategy developed by the World Mosquito Program (WMP) of Monash University, Australia. This decision comes in the wake of community resistance and the need for further study.
“We recognize the need for more comprehensive socialization of the program. Given the mixed reactions from the community, we’ve decided it’s prudent to delay the program to avoid societal division,” stated Mahendra Jaya at the Bali Provincial DPRD Office on Thursday (16/11). He expressed hope that with increased efforts from the program’s initiators, the community might come to accept the initiative, which has seen success in DI Jogjakarta Province.
Bali’s Regional Secretary, Dewa Made Indra, added that they are awaiting a detailed study from the Indonesian Ministry of Health (Kemenkes). He acknowledged the program’s potential in significantly reducing dengue fever cases in Denpasar City and other areas in Bali. “The application of this biotechnology has been promising in lowering dengue fever cases. However, we are yet to have a comprehensive understanding of the Wolbachia method, especially addressing the public’s concerns,” Indra explained.
The study by the Ministry of Health is expected to assess the effectiveness of the Wolbachia mosquito program in reducing dengue fever cases and evaluate any potential risks of new diseases emerging. “We need scientific evidence to understand the full impact of this program, including any unintended consequences,” Indra emphasized.
Indra also expressed gratitude towards those in the community who have critically engaged with the new program, highlighting its significance in public health protection. The original plan was to release Wolbachia-infused mosquitoes in Denpasar City on Monday (13/11). This program, however, faced opposition, notably from the Indonesian Hindu Coordination Center (Puskor Hindunesia), which called for its cancellation rather than postponement.
The Wolbachia method, successfully implemented in Jogjakarta, resulted in a 77% decrease in dengue cases and an 86% reduction in hospitalizations due to the disease. The technique involves releasing mosquitoes treated with Wolbachia bacteria, initially planned for Denpasar City and Buleleng Regency in Bali.
Denpasar Mayor I Gusti Ngurah Jaya Negara has also decided to await the Ministry of Health’s recommendation before proceeding. “Given the substantial public feedback, we have postponed the Wolbachia mosquito release and will proceed only upon receiving clear guidance from the Ministry of Health,” stated Mayor Jaya Negara.