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Fredros Okumu's blog

Malaria control must consider the complex lives of mosquitoes

August 19, 2021 - 14:32 -- Fredros Okumu

By Fredros Okumu, 19 August 2021

MOSQUITOES spread diseases to millions of people around the world, yet they remain poorly understood by most. Studying their biology and behaviors can help us combat, and eventually eliminate, dangerous diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

Malaria still kills 1,100 a day. It can’t afford to lose resources to coronavirus

May 2, 2020 - 16:45 -- Fredros Okumu
As we mark this year’s World Malaria Day, we must emphasize the need for stronger health systems and sustained investments to more aggressively tackle malaria despite the coronavirus pandemic. Since the start of this year, malaria has killed about 100 times more people in Africa than COVID19. And today, there will be another 1100 malaria deaths, tomorrow the same number. If not addressed, there will be many more people indirectly killed by other diseases such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis than by the outbreak itself.

Improving institutional ecosystems for young researchers in Africa

October 24, 2019 - 08:51 -- Fredros Okumu

IN 30 SECONDS: This is a practical guide to how research directors and administrators can improve institutional ecosystems for the benefit of the next generation of scientists in Africa. It includes some of the key lessons I have gained in recent years about challenges facing early-career researchers, and certain essential practices that our institutions can prioritize to help them succeed. A careful mix of these and other practices could help our young people to bloom bright, while staying true to improving people’s health and well-being.
This article was initially published online by Scientific African. See link here.

Why malaria mosquitoes are still dancing in our bedrooms

August 19, 2019 - 22:10 -- Fredros Okumu

IN 30 SECONDS: Today, most malaria mosquitoes in Tanzania are resistant to multiple insecticides, and Anopheles funestus is the hardiest of them all. They are regularly observed surviving up to 10 times higher insecticide doses than other malaria vectors. Unfortunately, there are currently no more than three insecticides registered in Tanzania that can effectively kill the mosquitoes. And if we do not deploy these available chemicals cleverly, we will lose this battle too. So, what then must we do? Well, in addition to current practices such as ITNs and house-spraying, we must begin a more sustainable program for improved housing and environmental management so that we may make our communities everlastingly free of the dangerous Anopheles. We must also continue strengthening our health systems to identify and treat new malaria cases. And we must expand access to health education in schools and households. Without these improvements, the deadly predators will most certainly continue dancing in our bedrooms.

The Amazing Biology of Malaria Mosquitoes

June 15, 2019 - 17:46 -- Fredros Okumu

IN 30 SECONDS: Mosquitoes spread diseases to millions of people around the world, yet they remain poorly understood by most. Of particular interest among these diseases is malaria in Africa, transmitted predominantly by four cruel members of the Anopheles family. This article is an abridged illustration of the many biological intrigues in the lives of malaria mosquitoes. The more we understand it, the closer we will get to “zero malaria”. And we must do so with as few deaths as possible

Insecticides, bednets and medicines may slow malaria down, but real progress requires a more holistic approach

April 25, 2019 - 10:06 -- Fredros Okumu

IN 30 SECONDS: There is no doubt that bed nets, insecticides, medicines and diagnostics will deliver significant successes against malaria in the short-term. But as major international partners continue prioritizing the commodity-based approach, African governments should be building the necessary resilience in affected communities. Countries should ensure safe houses and physical environments so that exposure to mosquito bites is minimized, strengthen health systems to identify and treat new malaria cases, expand access to health education in schools and households, and improve household economies and food security so that competing priorities are addressed. This needs to be a long-term strategy, paid for by domestic funding, subsidies, tax rebates or other innovative financing mechanisms – for example a ten-dollar malaria levy paid by international travelers visiting endemic countries. This way, the affected countries can better avoid malaria deaths and sickness, or rebounds of transmission, which currently place such a strain on national health outcomes and development.

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