Raising mosquito and malaria awareness through culinary arts

Anezka van Schalkwyk, Dr Hennie Fisher and Azille Neuhoff. Picture: Supplied

Anezka van Schalkwyk, Dr Hennie Fisher and Azille Neuhoff. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 24, 2023


Pretoria - Mosquitoes continue to have a devastating impact on global health.

With World Mosquito Day, on August 20, the global community commemorated Sir Ronald Ross, who in 1897 discovered that female mosquitoes from the Anopheles genus actively transmit malaria.

The best way to prevent malaria transmission is to ensure that people avoid being bitten by malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and this can be communicated through health promotion and malaria awareness creation.

The University of Pretoria (UP)Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control hosted a novel, safari cocktail experience on Woman’s Day, as part of a session on innovative health promotion and malaria awareness during its “Leadership and Management Training for Impact in Malaria Eradication” course’s module 3 programme.

The programme took place at UP’s Future Africa Campus from August 7 to 12.

The innovative culinary experience was created in collaboration with the Department of Consumer and Food Sciences at UP.

Two fourth-year BConSci (Food Retail Management) students, Azille Neuhoff and Anezka van Schalkwyk, researched and conceptualised the menu, together with Dr Hennie Fisher, a culinary arts lecturer in the department.

Neuhoff said: “This exciting opportunity allowed me to discover more about the food we consume and how food can be used to raise awareness about a disease as deadly as malaria.”

Van Schalkwyk added: “What a privilege to bring two different fields of interest together through the use of food.”

The project formed part of the Experiential Training in Industry 400 module.

As part of the immersive experience, guests were escorted to three food “stations” during the early evening.

At each station, Dr Taneshka Kruger, project manager of the Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control, provided interesting titbits of information about mosquitoes and the potential repellence of the foodstuff used in the menu.

Kruger advises that people should take the information provided during the event with a pinch of salt.

“Although the natural active ingredients mentioned may have some mosquito-repelling properties, they are unlikely to provide the same level of protection as commercial mosquito repellents, which contain active ingredients like Deet or picaridin, and would probably need to be consumed in large quantities to have any potential impact”, she said.

UP Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control researchers are identifying and testing natural active compounds in plants with the potential for further development as malaria parasite-killing drug candidates.

This culinary collaboration has scope for future research towards finding natural repellents to ward off mosquitoes.

Pretoria News