Day 1: Wednesday, 30th October 2019
Joint Keystone Symposia with Grand Challenges Annual Meeting
Grand Challenges: Where we go next: African leadership for African Innovation
The Keystone Symposia opened on Wednesday, October 30, with a joint session with the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting. The Master of Ceremonies Kedest Tesfagiorgis (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) kicked things off by welcoming Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, the Senegalese Minister of Health and Social Action. He spoke about the importance of partnership in fostering innovation, giving the example of the Pasteur Institute and the Institute of Vector Borne Diseases in Senegal.
The Spotlight Talk was given by Segenet Kelemu (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, ICIPE, Kenya), who spoke passionately about the need to change misconceptions about Africa. She also gave an overview of ICIPE and how it combines health, agriculture and environment and their relationship with insects.
Albert M. Muchanga, a delegate for the African Union Commission, expressed his commitment to engaging stakeholders in tackling the health burden in Africa.
Panel: Genetically-Based vector control for malaria elimination
Helen Jamet (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) moderated a discussion of gene drive for malaria elimination with some of the key players involved in the design and implementation of genetically modified mosquito trials in Burkina Faso.
Abdoulaye Diabaté (Target Malaria) spoke about the importance of engaging those who are suffering from malaria, having government commitment, robust regulation, and capacity building in implementing the Target Malaria project.
Alkassoum Maiga (Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Burkina Faso) shared his personal experience of having malaria and its devastating effect on the lives of individuals. He described how the research team overcame challenges in implementation of the gene drive project through transparency and community engagement with scientific research.
Jerome Singh (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) discussed the ethical concerns related to implementing gene drive studies, highlighting the difference between stakeholder and community engagement, risk assessment and mitigation, and interests of cross-border countries.
Francine Ntoumi (Congolese Foundation for Medical Research) discussed how the gene drive project was selected for funding among many emerging technology applications. So much of this research has been conducted in Africa, by Africans, stimulating future researchers.
The second Spotlight Talk of the evening was given by Faith Osier (Kenya Medical Research Institute KEMRI), who shared how the SMART network of African scientists and the KILchip© came together to identify antibodies necessary for the development of a malaria vaccine against merozoites. Professor Osier highlighted the need for equity in health and education, citing her personal experience as a success story.
Patrice Matchaba (Novartis) highlighted the struggle of those with sickle cell disease and inequity in access to care. He presented new drugs that promise a higher quality of life and protection from comorbidities.
The closing conversation was led by Trevor Mundel (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), who discussed South-South collaboration for vaccine development with Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil (African Union) and Renu Swarup (Indian Ministry of Science and Technology). The former gave an overview of the history of the African Union and a long-term strategic plan for the next 50 years, including the goal of “well-being for all Africans”. She also stressed that the empowerment of women is essential to achieving African development goals. Renu Swarup discussed the journey of vaccine development and manufacture in India, and stressed the importance of partnership with international stakeholders and government. To achieve equity for women, she argued that training is not enough – cultural change is also necessary to bring women to the mainstream.
Trevor Mundel closed the meeting by thanking all the partners that made the Grand Challenges meeting possible.
- Read the conference report of Day 2: Thursday, 31st October 2019 here
- Read the conference report of Day 3: Friday, 1st November 2019 here
- Read the conference report of Day 4: Saturday, 2nd November 2019 here
This report is brought to you by the MESA Correspondents Solomon M Abay (University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and Maya Fraser (PATH). Senior editorial support has been facilitated by Hannah Slater (PATH) and Flaminia Catteruccia (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health). This report is cross-posted on the MESA website, the Keystone Symposia Keypoint Blog and on MalariaWorld.