Case study: Libya
Customer: The Ministry for Public Utilities, Libya
The Ministry have operated their own pest control technician teams for more than 40 years in much the same way as local authorities do in the UK. The traditional techniques were no longer adequate, and the Libyan government suspects that rats have developed a resistance to the anti-coagulant used. The rat population has been increasing at an alarming rate at a countrywide level, giving rise to serious public health concerns. This resulted in the development of the “National Programme for the Control of Rodents Harmful to Health” by the Libyan Government.
Rats need controlling primarily due to their capacity to act as a vector for serious diseases such as plague, leptospirosis, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, Eosinophilic Meningitis and rat bite fever. This is true in Libya; however there is another vector to consider, that being the sand fly which harbours on a rodent known as Psammomys Obesus, also known as the fat sand rat. The sand fly is a vector for Leschmaniasis, a disease prevalent in North Africa and the Middle East.
Rentokil was contracted as part of this programme to assume complete responsibility for the control of rats in the major cities of Tripoli, Misratah and Benghazi for a 3 year period. Former members of the Ministry’s in-house teams have joined Rentokil on a 3 year secondment to support the contract, working alongside a team of 32 experts from the UK.
The Rentokil solution to the challenge in Libya consists of 4 main themes:-
The development and implementation of a robust public awareness agenda. The plan is aimed at influencing on 3 levels:
A variety of techniques are being employed to deliver these messages including leaflet distribution, seminars, meetings, media (Radio, TV, press), posters in public places and road shows in city centres.
A comprehensive training programme for local Rentokil staff and Government pest control technicians to create a self sufficient Government run footprint post contract. Local Rentokil technicians are given extensive class and field based training to BPCA standards as well as an intensive 12 week English course to allow them to interface effectively with their UK colleagues when undertaking field based training. We are also running 4 week courses for Government pest control staff in country as well as a 3 week UK based training programme including site visits for representatives from each of the 23 Shabias. A huge emphasis is placed on health, safety and environmental aspects.
The development of dual language PDA software incorporating GPS functionality to overcome the operational issues of not having any addresses or postcodes to work from. This is linked to a bespoke database which provides comprehensive customer reporting and provides a visual interpretation via a link to Google Earth. We have broken up the 3 Cities into 1 km x 1 km squares and report against each one of these as a zone.
Optimisation of bait selection via pioneering DNA analysis techniques in the UK. Powerful anti-coagulants have been available for purchase by the general public for many years. These are controlled in the EU for professional use only. With extensive use by non trained persons, this can potentially give rise to the development of resistance within the rodent population. In order to ensure the baits used are effective, Rentokil are working with a leading UK University to conduct DNA analysis on specimens from the 3 Cities. This allows us to check for mutations common to known anti-coagulant resistance in Europe.
We are currently in the early stages of the contract but the initial findings have been very positive. There is extremely strong public support for the project and the UK technicians have been overwhelmed by the warmth shown to them by the people of Libya. This will greatly improve the efficacy of the work in terms of assisting with waste management and ensuring bait stations are not tampered with.
The technical developments with the PDA and reporting systems have proved invaluable. Without these, it would have been virtually impossible to locate and report on activity for the c. 150,000 fixed bait monitoring points that will be in use when the contract is fully mobilised.
We are highly confident that the country will experience a considerable reduction in the rat population in the coming months and years.
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