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Tackling The Malaria “End Game”: Regional Needs And Challenges For Successful Malaria Elimination

February 29, 2012 - 21:15 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The article below was written by Prof. John Beier, Editor of Acta Tropica, about a special issue of the journal published in March 2012.

 

This special issue (SI) of Acta Tropica features 20 articles highlighting the activities and plans of 10 NIH/NIAID International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) located in 7 malaria endemic regions of the world. The SI informs readers about diverse and complex malaria issues, and will be of special interest for students, investigators, and policy-makers who need to understand and deal with current challenges for malaria elimination. 

Hundreds of top malaria researchers and students worldwide are contributing to the NIH/NIAID ICEMR program. The Acta Tropica SI captures the essence of the program. The SI format sought two articles from each ICEMR project: one on the current malaria situation in their region/country and another laying out their approach and vision for the future. This format indeed challenged Principal Investigators (PIs), all renowned in the field of malaria, and their expert teams including distinguished national authorities, to think beyond what was originally included in their NIH proposals. Papers from each ICEMR team relied heavily on guidance and significant inputs from health experts and malaria authorities in their countries/region. Each article emphasizes how these essential partnerships and capacity building serve as the backbone of progress and true success in the fight against malaria.

 

The Acta Tropica SI highlights how each of the 10 NIH ICEMR programs is unique and highly responsive to regional/country needs. Some countries are already embarking on malaria elimination while others are contemplating what to do for people receiving hundreds of infective bites per year from local anopheline mosquitoes. ICEMRs work hand in hand with national and regional authorities. The 7-year NIH NIAID ICEMR program (now in year 2) seeks to provide knowledge, tools, and evidence-based strategies to support National Malaria Control Programs and established institutions in their continued fight against malaria. By relying on multi-disciplinary approaches for research and training with multi-country networks of study populations and treatment centers, each center is poised to respond to emerging needs and opportunities within the region. 

 

A major focus is how countries can greatly improve malaria control so they will be positioned to begin the complex process of malaria elimination. Strategies for each country in the ICEMR network involve using existing tools as well as setting the stage of testing malaria vaccines, anti-malarial drugs, and sets of tools for malaria vector control. Clearly, no one strategy meets the needs of all countries/regions but rather interdisciplinary approaches and innovation is required for dealing with current and future malaria problems.

 

All of the authors of the Acta Tropica SI are congratulated on a job well done. Beyond producing a SI, this activity made PIs and their teams think hard and convey important messages regarding the epidemiological reality of achieving malaria elimination. Reviewers of each paper are also thanked as they contributed significantly by making authors deal directly with tough questions and issues.

 

Importantly, the SI would not have been possible without the dedication, time, and considerable effort devoted by 3 distinguished Guest Editors: Dr. Walther Wernsdorfer, Dr. Malla Rao, and Dr. Bart Knols.

 

Beyond this Acta Tropica SI, stay tuned as the NIH NIAID ICEMR’s are poised for making great progress and perhaps true discoveries that will change our strategies for fighting malaria. More information about the NIH NIAID ICEMR program can be found here

 

Acta Tropica has generously agreed to avail 25 hard copies of this special issue to MalariaWorld subscribers for free. If you are interested, please send your name and full address to info@malariaworld.org. Be quick, as this works on a first come first serve basis.