Is Icon spraying really effective?
On August 13, the government started a program of spraying the insecticide Icon in people’s homes, in the context of the fight against malaria. However, people whose houses have already been taken care of, are not entirely convinced that the product is working.
Claudine Kinyanza, who lives at Gikondo Ruganwa 1, says that she was surprised to see the mosquitoes again, as she was told that after two hours every small insect would be dead.
“I did indeed find dead cockroaches, but in the evening the mosquitoes just came back,” she explains. “This makes me wonder: if the mosquitoes are still there, then they will spread malaria as usual. But they have sprayed our house! I am really anxious about this, and want to get more information about how this Icon works.”
Marcel Mutsizi, a resident of the same area, has the same experience. “I really believe Icon can work, because after the sprayingI did indeed find some dead mosquitoes.
However, in the evening it was business as usual. Maybe the people who are doing the job are not well trained in how to prepare
the spray, or maybe in some houses they spray too little… I don’t know”, Marcel speculates.
And he has another problem: a day after the spraying, his skin started to itch and he developed an allergy. So now he is in doubt whether Icon cannot be harmful.
In Ruganwa 11, Nelson Rwema is also not sure about the effectiveness of the product. In his case, he says, it hardly worked, and he cannot believe that the chemical will still have effect after a long time.
Emmanuel Hakizimana, an entomologist of PNLIP (the national program for the fight against malaria), recognizes that there might be a problem of mosquitoes returning. “The fact is, however, that due to the spraying, the mosquitoes can no longer lay eggs. Thus, with time they will disappear altogether. That is the purpose of the program.”
He insists he should not be worried about Icon. “Of course, this is a chemical spray, so it might cause skin allergy with some people.
However, this is temporary, and it is a common allergy which is not harmful. For example, there are people who react in the same way to the chemicals we use to impregnate mosquito nets. So, don’t worry, you can certainly not die from it.”
It is also important, according to the insect specialist, to differentiate between various kinds of mosquitoes. “The reality is that, in Kigali, most mosquitoes are of the ‘culex’ species, which do not spread malaria. The ones that carry over malaria are called ‘anopheles’. So people should not be anxious if they see mosquitoes coming back,” he says.
As to complaints from people that the teams do not spray all around the house, Hakizimana replied that Icon is a very expensive product, so that they have to limit the quantity used per house.