The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) hosted on November 16th a symposium to share key outcomes from the consultative process to update the malaria eradication research agenda (malERA). This review exercise, entitled “malERA Refresh”, has been led by the Malaria Eradication Scientific Alliance (MESA) with the participation of more than 180 experts around the world.
During 2015 and 2016, experts involved in malERA Refresh reviewed progress made and evidence generated since 2011, when the original R&D agenda was first published. The aim was to define a forward-looking research and development agenda that would accelerate progress to a world free from malaria.
Panel and audience discussed concepts like collaboration, which ultimately makes science progress faster and that technological innovation is a driver of discovery. Surveillance was recognised as a key pillar to malaria elimination, but that gaps persist and research is needed. There were calls to bring skill sets and learnings from other quarters into malaria problem solving e.g. tissue engineering, electronics, agriculture and other infectious diseases. Pedro Alonso (Director of the Global Malaria Programme at the World Health Organization) closed the session commenting that robust research is critical for the WHO to be able to build evidence-based policies and guidelines and that an updated research agenda should become a key pathfinder for the WHO Global R&D Health Observatory.
The ASTMH symposium, which was filmed and is available in MESA's Knowledge Hub, brought together the malaria community to discuss the findings of this updating process. It was chaired by Regina Rabinovich (Director of the ISGlobal Malaria Elimination Initiative and Exonn Mobil Scholar at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) and Pedro Alonso, both members of the Leadership Group of malERA Refresh, together with Dyann Wirth (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) and Marcel Tanner (Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute).
The consultative exercise to update the R&D agenda for malaria eradication was organized around six panels on the following themes: Basic science and enabling technologies; Insecticide and drug resistance; Characterizing the reservoir and measuring transmission; Tools for elimination; Combination interventions and modelling; and Health systems and policy research. Papers reporting on results from each of these panels will be published in an open access journal and on the MESA webpage (http://www.malariaeradication.org) in the coming months.
MESA is an alliance dedicated to advancing the science of malaria eradication. Its secretariat is based at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, and it is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.