The implementation of Wolbachia mosquitoes in Bali faced resistance from the majority of locals, sparking debates over the method’s effectiveness in controlling dengue fever. Acting Governor of Bali, Sang Made Mahendra Jaya stated on 19 November 2023, his opposition to the pilot project, which aimed to release 200 million Wolbachia mosquito eggs.
The distribution was intended for the Denpasar and Singaraja areas, but the Governor’s rejection lacked a detailed or scientific explanation. He mentioned the uneven outreach efforts concerning Wolbachia mosquitoes, leading to widespread unfamiliarity and subsequent rejection of the program by many people.
The Bali government urged the Indonesian Ministry of Health to allow for extensive outreach efforts to create a more conducive environment. Prior to this rejection, numerous videos about Wolbachia mosquitoes were circulating on social media.
One of the most popular videos was a statement from Professor Richard Claproth, an Indonesian scientist and nuclear doctor from Harvard University, who made a statement highlighting Wolbachia as a genetic engineering program involving the Wolbachia bacteria. He expressed concerns about its technological risks to Indonesia’s national security.
An official press release on the Indonesian Ministry of Health’s website, explicitly confirms that there’s no genetic engineering involved in Wolbachia mosquito technology. The efficacy of this approach has been under research since 2011 by the World Mosquito Program (WMP) and Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta.
@pohlisan Project Wolbachia has recently expanded to Sembawang West and we will be working closely with the NEA Project Wolbachia team to release male Wolbachia mosquitoes into our estates biweekly for the next two years. Residents may see more mosquitoes around but there is no need for concern as these male mosquitoes do not bite! Do continue to practice the Mozzie Wipeout to keep mosquito breeding at bay and protect yourself from mosquito bites by applying insect repellent regularly. For more information about Project Wolbachia, visit go.gov.sg/Wolbachia #tiktoksg #sembawang #sembawangwest #sgcommunity #mozziewipeout #projectwolbachia @NEAsg ♬ original sound – pohlisan
This method’s success in reducing dengue fever cases has been validated in various countries, including Australia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Vietnam, Laos, and Mexico.
Conversely, Jakarta is poised to adopt the Wolbachia mosquito method as well. The DKI Jakarta government has readied 4,100 containers of Wolbachia mosquito seeds, scheduled for release before the end of 2023. Erizon, Head of the West Jakarta Health Sub-Department, mentioned that their team awaits an MoU between the Ministry of Health and the DKI Jakarta regional government before officially implementing this measure.