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Column: Where do you hang a mosquito net in the bush?

April 2, 2014 - 19:22 -- Bart G.J. Knols
So you live in DR Congo. Your youngest child has visited the health post today, she is diagnosed with malaria. You were lucky that there was somebody at the clinic today. They gave you a blister with drugs. It is not quite clear how you got the first capsule into this two year old, but you managed. She is asleep now, safely under a mosquito net that was donated to you last year.
 
All of a sudden you hear noise outside. Gunshots, men running, men screaming. You know what this means. You, your family, you have to run. NOW.
 

Column: Social values & beliefs: the key to successful malaria prevention?

March 23, 2014 - 08:46 -- Ingeborg van Schayk
Do social norms and cost sharing matter in obtaining community buy in and adding value to health commodities? An excerpt from the field with emphasis on community based participatory methods and insecticide treated bed net (ITN) usage.
 

In memoriam: Ernst-Jan Scholte (1974 - 2014)

March 20, 2014 - 19:00 -- Bart G.J. Knols

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of my friend, colleague and my former PhD student Dr. Ernst-Jan Scholte, yesterday, 16 March 2014. Although obituaries are normally written for scientists that died at an old age and had a massive track record in our field, I feel the urge to commemorate and remember this great person in front of you all at MalariaWorld. He became only 40 years of age - after fighting cancer for a year.

Ernst-Jan first contacted me in 1998 when he was still a biology student at the Wageningen University. At that time I was working in Nairobi for the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Ernst-Jan (or EJ as many called him) wanted to study mosquitoes and do an internship with me for six months. He was lucky. Within a week after he arrived in Kenya we undertook a wonderful safari to the border with Tanzania, visiting and hiking in a Masai area where I had previously worked on tsetse flies. EJ loved it from day one. He fell in love with Africa, its people and its wildlife, and was extremely motivated in his work. I will never forget the nights we camped out in the bush together...

New: Book on architecture and health (notably malaria)

March 20, 2014 - 18:14 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Early nomadic shelters, including caves, animal skin tents, and igloos, were used for protection against the wind, rain, snow, sunlight, and other forces of nature. These basic homes also provided defence against predators and were used to store a few important possessions. They were temporary, and proximity to a water source was of prime importance.
 

Column: Out of sight, out of mind? How has imaging advanced our understanding of Plasmodium infected erythrocytes?

March 12, 2014 - 21:57 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Being a lab-based malaria researcher in a non-endemic country, I’ve been really interested by the columns that our colleagues ‘in the field’ have shared; looking at vector populations, elimination strategies and experiences of disease themselves. My perspectives of malaria are rather different however, and I hope to share more of a laboratory angle in my contributions to MalariaWorld this year. With that in mind, where better to start than the microscope and how most of us first come ‘face to face’ with Plasmodium spp? 
 
A bit of history
 
Much of our knowledge of Plasmodium parasites has come from the ability to visualize them (reviewed by [1]). The first description of the causative agents of malaria by Laveran in 1880 was made possible by 400x magnification of infected blood samples, and detected the pigment we now know as haemozoin. Since then the Giemsa stain, developed in 1904, has made it possible to differentiate between species, and remains the clinical gold standard to diagnose infection... 

Updated version of book freely available

March 5, 2014 - 11:51 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The freely available book titled "Artemisia annua,Artemisinin, ACTs & Malaria Control in Africa: Tradition, Science and Public Policy", has been updated by the author, Dana Dalrymple, and has been expanded with an Annex (Annex 7), titled: "The Early Role of Novartis in ACT Development" (pp. 189-192).

The book is attached to this blog. We are grateful to Dr. Dalrymple to make this updated version available for free to MalariaWorld subscribers.

The MW team.

Column: Problems on the Horizon

March 2, 2014 - 22:08 -- Bart G.J. Knols
As an avid observer of malaria transmission patterns, I am becoming worried about sustaining the advances that have developed over the past ten or so years. There is no doubt that the advent of insecticide treated bednets has provided a vehicle for various interested parties to exploit as a means of vector control, and this has happened in huge numbers. Tens of millions of LLINs have been delivered to various governments, NGOs and other interested parties, and this is still happening. But when it comes to monitoring the effects of this intervention, when it comes to careful evaluation of the programmes, there isn’t much to hear...

Can malaria be suppressed in the Congo River Basin without developing the Grand Inga Dam?

February 28, 2014 - 12:50 -- William Jobin

Greetings,

Despite real progress in much of Africa, the two big elephants left in the room are Nigeria and the Congo. Because of poor infrastructure, continuing civil war, and very unstable political conditions, it is hard to imagine how we can attack malaria in the Congo. Although the US PMI has added them to their list, we all know it will be a long time before anything significant can be organized there.

Organizing indoor spray programs or bednet distribution takes a stable MOH, and is difficult in the midst of civil war.

World Health Day (7 April) about vector-borne diseases

February 24, 2014 - 19:50 -- Bart G.J. Knols

This year World Health Day has its focus on vector-borne diseases, including malaria. The World Health Organization has set specific goals for this day, and is asking the international community working on malaria and other vectors to pay special attention towards protection from vector-borne diseases.

Avez-vous travaillez avec le PMI en Afrique ? Have you worked with US Presidential Malaria Initiative for Africa?

February 21, 2014 - 13:00 -- William Jobin

Chers Confreres et Colleagues,

The US Presidential Malaria Initiative (PMI) began in 2005 in Angola. I helped start it, along with 2 other consultants for RTI the US contractor, and 3 malariologists from the Angolan Ministry of Health. Since then PMI has expanded to cover 21 countries in Africa. The contract passed from RTI to Abt Associates, and others.

If you do simple math, that means we have accumulated about 1,000 person years since then, in Africa, fighting malaria. What a tremendous resource! Are you one of those people?

The inherent waste in ephemeral methods such as bednets or indoor spraying, compared to the accumulating benefit of land reclamation

February 18, 2014 - 14:06 -- William Jobin

When Martinho Somandjinga, Manuel Lluberas, Joaquim Canelas and I started the US PMI in Angola in 2005, the excitement and pride of our accomplishments carried us along for the first couple of years. Sure we spent over two million dollars in one small province each year, but it seemed worth it.

Column: If they are lazy, are we stupid?

February 16, 2014 - 21:15 -- Bart G.J. Knols
The following is an actual quote from an investigator/professor (who shall remain anonymous) working in a malaria-endemic region whilst referring to the local riverine population, in a relaxed while-drinking-a-beer environment: “They could have less malaria, but they’re just too lazy to build proper houses”.
 
I don’t know about you, but for me that was the spark for a 30 minute argument that ruined the relaxed while-drinking-a-beer environment of that afternoon! The thing is, I find it difficult when I have to sit and listen to educated men and women from a variety of backgrounds and in a position to actually have their opinions on malaria heard (WHO, big regional Hospitals or small local district health centers, professors and researchers at universities or NGO workers) being asked the question of why malaria hasn’t been eliminated so far and hear that, in some way, it is the fault of individuals living in malaria endemic areas. Usually the arguments for that go somewhat like: they don’t clean their gutters or other possible mosquito breeding grounds; they don’t close the gaps between the wooden boards of their houses or between the roof and the walls, they don’t sleep under bednets, they insist in staying outdoors after dark, they don’t use insect repellent or have fans in their houses, etc, etc… I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, if you haven’t thought it yourself...

Column: Sleepless in the liver: would revisiting the past give any directions on how to deal with hypnozoite carriers of P. vivax?

February 6, 2014 - 20:51 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Many of the recent strategies to improve malaria control have been focusing on improving the detection of very low parasitaemias to identify asymptomatic carriers of Plasmodium sp. to reduce the infective reservoir. Although these strategies are extremely rational and sensible to tackle most of malaria infections, they will probably not be sufficient to achieve elimination for parasites that present relapses, as is the case for Plasmodium vivax. The need to look for new and sophisticated methods has been exhaustively stressed by researchers, however, at this time, revisiting a simple and efficient strategy successfully employed in the past could prove to be a path to be followed...

Malaria in Ethiopia, Jerusalem and Zanzibar

February 5, 2014 - 21:17 -- William Jobin

Malaria in Ethiopia, Jerusalem and Zanzibar

Eighth African Malaria Dialogue – Boston University USA 31 January 2014

Our informal African Malaria Dialogues started in the summer of 2012, meeting quarterly on the East Coast of the US in order to encourage interdisciplinary field research on African malaria. The dialogues are informally organized and participants cover their own costs for travel and meals. All are invited, and our next Dialogue will be in the Spring.

Please let me know if you wish to come. I will put you on our list.

Column: Nobody asked me, but …

February 4, 2014 - 19:52 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Malaria control is much more complicated and complex than can be highlighted within the confines of a few lines of text, but I need to share with you some of the things that make me wonder and keep me up some nights. I do not consider myself an alarmist, but as a public health entomologist there are a few things that concern me when I think of malaria control.
 

The World Malaria Report for 2013 paints an optimistic picture when it reports a fifty percent reduction in global mortality due malaria since 2000. However, the same report states that in 2012, “in 41 of the 103 countries reporting, which account for 80% of estimated cases, it is not possible to reliably assess malaria trends using the data submitted to WHO” as “information systems are weakest, and the challenges for strengthening systems are greatest, where the malaria burden is greatest.”...

Column: For sustainable control of malaria in Sudan: No more broken water pipes and water containers!

January 29, 2014 - 17:10 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Do you know what LBWPs means?! 
It is a common terminology between entomologists, health officers and other people working in mosquito control in Sudan and it means “Leakages of Broken Water Pipes”. I live in Omdurman City in Sudan and broken pipes were a common fact of life as I grew up. For writing this column, I decided to count the number of broken water pipes along the 20 km distance I commute to work; there were two. One was a large pipe alongside the main road and the other was inside my neighbourhood. This scenario reaches its peak in the winter, nowadays probably as a result of a decrease in demand for tap water and high water pressure inside pipes. Most visibly, broken pipes can represent breeding sites for mosquitoes...

Fake malaria drugs kill

January 29, 2014 - 14:26 -- Ingeborg van Schayk

Stop the trade in fake malaria drugs and sign the petition at www.fakedrugskill.org

1/3 of all malaria drugs sold in Africa are fake. Criminals in China and India make huge profits from the illegal production of fake and counterfeit malaria drugs.

Watch the short films "Fake drugs kill" and " The story about fake drugs" here.

Submit your next manuscript to MalariaWorld Journal. It's free to read & free to publish

January 29, 2014 - 11:40 -- Ingeborg van Schayk

The MalariaWorld Journal is the first truly Open Access, peer reviewed, journal with an exclusive focus on malaria – where you don’t pay to publish and you don’t pay to read.

African Malaria Dialogue meets at Boston University on Friday morning 31 January 2014

January 26, 2014 - 00:35 -- William Jobin

You are invited to join us for an informal dialogue on African Malaria at the Pardee Center of Boston University, 67 Bay State Road near the Kenmore Square Station of the MBTA, We will begin with coffee and tea at 9:30 am. continuing until 11:30 when a simple box lunch will be provided.

Our host this time is Prof. Jim McCann of the African History Dept of BU. Jim has recently returned from Ethiopia where he and colleagues have been conducting field research on agriculture and malaria. Jim is also writing a book on malaria in Ethiopia which will soon be published.

Column: looking for good news on the road to zero malaria deaths

January 23, 2014 - 20:40 -- Ingeborg van Schayk
Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar. 
Traveller, there is no road. We make the road by walking.
Antonio Machado (1875-1939)
 
By George Jagoe
 
In 2011, RBM revised one of its key objectives for the Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP):  it called for reducing “global malaria deaths to near zero by end 2015”. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Robert Newman, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme commented:  “Reducing malaria deaths to near-zero is the right goal, a goal that we need to make every conceivable effort to achieve. But, let us be clear, it is also a wildly ambitious goal.” (1)

New WHO Collaborating Centre in Geospatial Disease Modelling

January 20, 2014 - 14:35 -- Bart G.J. Knols
The University of Oxford has received designation as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Geospatial Disease Modelling. Based in the Spatial Ecology and Epidemiology Group (SEEG) in the Department of Zoology, this new designation primarily recognises the contributions of SEEG to supporting the modelling, monitoring and evaluation activities of the WHO Global Malaria Programme.

What should we do: Peer review or not?

January 16, 2014 - 13:36 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The science world is undergoing rapid changes, and so does the field of scientific publishing. The Lancet recently featured five articles on the current value and reduction of waste in biomedical research. An article in the Economist from a few months before titled 'How science goes wrong' is another eye-opener. Clearly, much is changing in the science world, and this includes us scientists working on malaria.

Here we are asking for your views regarding an issue we are discussing for the MalariaWorld Journal, entering its 5th volume this year: Should we continue with peer review, yes or no, or should we perhaps make it optional?

Debate: adults or larvae?

January 7, 2014 - 13:15 -- William Jobin

Why are there two completely opposing views about the value of direct attacks on anopheline mosquito larvae or on adults, for suppressing malaria transmission ?

In recent public and written debates, I have seen diametrically and vehemently opposed views expressed on the value of attacking larvae through eliminating breeding sites, as opposed to the current emphasis on reducing biting by anopheline adults through bednets and indoor spraying.

Press release: Malaria Conference Will Look to Israel’s Past for Modern Solutions

December 8, 2013 - 15:23 -- Bart G.J. Knols
MEDIA ADVISORY
INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE
 
Malaria Conference Will Look to Israel’s Past for Modern Solutions
Techniques that worked decades ago could help stop the annual 660,000 malaria deaths
Experts, field workers and historians will gather Dec. 8-12 in Jerusalem
Forgotten anti-malaria pioneer and his innovations to be recognized

Hebrew University - Malaria conference (8-12 December)

December 5, 2013 - 10:57 -- Bart G.J. Knols

From 8-12 December, a conference titled 'Revisiting Malaria: Moving from Control to Sustainable Elimination' will be organised at the Hebrew University-Hadassah, Jerusalem, Israel.

The meeting conincides with the Centennial commemoration of the activities undertaken by Prof. Israel Kligler (picture, 2nd row, left), who was instrumental in eliminating malaria from Palestine. Malaria that in many ways was similar in intensity and impact as malaria seen in many parts of Africa today.

The meeting will be held in the form of a workshop and lectures, looking at past historical successes in malaria elimination, reviewing our current focus, and looking forward to identify what will be needed to move from control to sustainable elimination.

Also, workshop participants will work on scenario's for malaria elimination in island settings and ecological islands. The aim is to assist managers of NMCPs in moving forward in their country towards malaria elimination.

Participants have been selected from a variety of backgrounds that are considered essential in the planning and execution of operational malaria programmes.

Outputs from the meeting will be reported here on MalariaWorld, including a declaration by the participants.

The meeting is generously supported by the following organisations:

Kuvin Foundation, Braun School of Public Health & Community Medicine; Hebrew University, Faculty of Medicine-Hadassah; Hadassah; British Friends of Hebrew University; Pears Foundation (UK); Jewish National Fund/Keren Keyemeth LeIsrael; TEVA; and The Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases.
 

Fact or Fallacy? Vector control is a major part of malaria interventions.

November 18, 2013 - 09:15 -- Mark Benedict

It is often asserted that there are two malaria vector interventions in widespread use: long-lasting insecticide treated bednets (LLIN) and indoor residual insecticide spraying (IRS). Are either of these vector interventions? I’ll argue that the answer is, “No!” What does this mean for the development of new methods?

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