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Cuba shows how a resource-poor country can use research to tackle a global health problem such as dengue fever, say Cuban scientists Maria G. Guzmán and Gustavo Kourí.

The country has kept itself free of dengue fever through locally-relevant, targeted basic and implementation research, say the authors.

Domestic studies have improved Cuban knowledge about dengue fever and highlighted disease characteristics relevant to the island, for example the existence of a human dengue resistance gene.

Local research has also led to new diagnostic tools that, combined with a country-wide laboratory network to analyse blood samples, have strengthened disease surveillance and made Cuba self-sufficient, say the authors.

Two vaccine candidates have also been developed and are at an advanced stage of pre-clinical evaluation.

Research is also used to inform vector control strategies. This largely focuses on entomological research, such as studying insecticide-resistance mechanisms or identifying the environmental features that lead to infestations of dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Other investigations are being made into improving local community involvement in vector control, say the authors. This is crucial as the presence of dengue-carrying mosquitoes often depends on human behaviour.

Link to full article in The Lancet