Three MESA-funded projects in Cambodia, Kenya and Tanzania looked at what can be done to reduce efficacy decay of malaria interventions in different settings, and the feasibility of clearing parasites from asymptomatic people. As the projects wrap-up, the research groups are sharing findings with National Malaria Control Programmes, Ministries of Health, as well as national research networks.
At the 2014 ASTMH conference in New Orleans, MESA Grantees shared their unpublished work with other operational research experts.One of the Principle Investigators, Dr Wendy Prudhomme O'Meara (Duke University) said "It was one of the most interesting sessions I attended at the whole meeting, in part due to the positive and productive interaction between the presenters and the listeners." Dr O'Meara's work tested a rapid assessment tool for the identification and quantification of weaknesses in the combination of malaria interventions used in villages in Kenya. Her work showed that Health Care Workers could use the tool to point to problem areas in the local malaria strategy, be that use of LLINs (long-lasting insecticide treated nets), adjacent crops, or breeding sites close to people's homes. Read summary of findings here.
In rural Tanzania, Dr Rashid Khatib (Ifakara Health Institute) and team worked with local communities to develop and test novel behaviour communications packages. The materials used were developed by school children and local artists. Results show that treatment-seeking behaviour increased in the villages using the communications packages. Read summary of findings here.
The Malaria Consortium-led project in Cambodia tested the feasibility of 'reactive case detection' in order to find and clear parasites from the asymptomatic reservoir. Results indicate that screening first for risk factors like fever, non-use of LLINS and a history of malaria could help identify individuals for reactive case detection and increase the cost effectiveness of the strategy. Dr Arantxa Roca-Feltrer, the lead investigator on the study, said, "Understanding how to optimise malaria response approaches to identify asymptomatic infections is key if we are to achieve malaria elimination." The malaria programme in Cambodia is determining the appropriate reactive case detection approach to roll out. Read summary of findings here.
These are the first projects supported by the Malaria Eradication Scientific Alliance (MESA) to be completed. Seven more projects will share their findings throughout this year. Details of the open, independent project selection are on the MESA website www.malariaeradication.org.