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) at Monash University (Australia). This decision comes after community resistance and the need for more studies.
“We recognize the need for a more thorough socialization of the program. Given the mixed reactions from the community, we have decided that it is prudent to delay the program to avoid division of society,” stated Mahendra Jaya at the Bali DPRD Provincial Office on Thursday (11/16). She expressed hope that, with greater efforts by the program’s promoters, the community will accept the initiative, which has been successful in Jogjakarta province.
Bali Regional Secretary Dewa Made Indra added that they are waiting for a detailed study from the Indonesian Ministry of Health (Kemenkes). He recognized the program’s potential to significantly reduce dengue cases in Denpasar city and other areas of Bali. “The application of this biotechnology has been promising in reducing dengue cases. However, we still do not know the Wolbachia method in depth, especially with regard to the concerns of the population,” Indra explained.
The Ministry of Health’s study is expected to evaluate the effectiveness of the Wolbachia mosquito program in reducing dengue cases and assess any potential risk of the emergence of new diseases. “We need scientific evidence to understand the full impact of this program, including possible unintended consequences,” Indra stressed.
Indra also expressed gratitude to community members who have critically engaged with the new program, highlighting its importance for protecting public health. The original plan was to release mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia in Denpasar City on Monday (11/13). However, this program faced opposition, especially from the Indonesian Hindu Coordination Center (Puskor Hindunesia), which called for its cancellation rather than postponement.
The Wolbachia method, successfully applied in Jogjakarta, resulted in a 77% decrease in dengue cases and an 86% decrease in hospitalizations due to the disease. The technique consists of releasing mosquitoes treated with the Wolbachia bacteria, initially planned for the city of Denpasar and the regency of Buleleng, in Bali.
The mayor of Denpasar, I Gusti Ngurah Jaya Negara, has also decided to wait for the recommendation of the Ministry of Health before proceeding. “Given the numerous reactions from the public, we have postponed the release of the Wolbachia mosquito and will only proceed when we receive clear guidance from the Ministry of Health,” said Mayor Jaya Negara.