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Bart G.J. Knols's blog

World Health Day (7 April) about vector-borne diseases

February 24, 2014 - 19:50 -- Bart G.J. Knols

This year World Health Day has its focus on vector-borne diseases, including malaria. The World Health Organization has set specific goals for this day, and is asking the international community working on malaria and other vectors to pay special attention towards protection from vector-borne diseases.

Column: If they are lazy, are we stupid?

February 16, 2014 - 21:15 -- Bart G.J. Knols
The following is an actual quote from an investigator/professor (who shall remain anonymous) working in a malaria-endemic region whilst referring to the local riverine population, in a relaxed while-drinking-a-beer environment: “They could have less malaria, but they’re just too lazy to build proper houses”.
 
I don’t know about you, but for me that was the spark for a 30 minute argument that ruined the relaxed while-drinking-a-beer environment of that afternoon! The thing is, I find it difficult when I have to sit and listen to educated men and women from a variety of backgrounds and in a position to actually have their opinions on malaria heard (WHO, big regional Hospitals or small local district health centers, professors and researchers at universities or NGO workers) being asked the question of why malaria hasn’t been eliminated so far and hear that, in some way, it is the fault of individuals living in malaria endemic areas. Usually the arguments for that go somewhat like: they don’t clean their gutters or other possible mosquito breeding grounds; they don’t close the gaps between the wooden boards of their houses or between the roof and the walls, they don’t sleep under bednets, they insist in staying outdoors after dark, they don’t use insect repellent or have fans in their houses, etc, etc… I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, if you haven’t thought it yourself...

Column: Sleepless in the liver: would revisiting the past give any directions on how to deal with hypnozoite carriers of P. vivax?

February 6, 2014 - 20:51 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Many of the recent strategies to improve malaria control have been focusing on improving the detection of very low parasitaemias to identify asymptomatic carriers of Plasmodium sp. to reduce the infective reservoir. Although these strategies are extremely rational and sensible to tackle most of malaria infections, they will probably not be sufficient to achieve elimination for parasites that present relapses, as is the case for Plasmodium vivax. The need to look for new and sophisticated methods has been exhaustively stressed by researchers, however, at this time, revisiting a simple and efficient strategy successfully employed in the past could prove to be a path to be followed...

Column: Nobody asked me, but …

February 4, 2014 - 19:52 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Malaria control is much more complicated and complex than can be highlighted within the confines of a few lines of text, but I need to share with you some of the things that make me wonder and keep me up some nights. I do not consider myself an alarmist, but as a public health entomologist there are a few things that concern me when I think of malaria control.
 

The World Malaria Report for 2013 paints an optimistic picture when it reports a fifty percent reduction in global mortality due malaria since 2000. However, the same report states that in 2012, “in 41 of the 103 countries reporting, which account for 80% of estimated cases, it is not possible to reliably assess malaria trends using the data submitted to WHO” as “information systems are weakest, and the challenges for strengthening systems are greatest, where the malaria burden is greatest.”...

Column: For sustainable control of malaria in Sudan: No more broken water pipes and water containers!

January 29, 2014 - 17:10 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Do you know what LBWPs means?! 
It is a common terminology between entomologists, health officers and other people working in mosquito control in Sudan and it means “Leakages of Broken Water Pipes”. I live in Omdurman City in Sudan and broken pipes were a common fact of life as I grew up. For writing this column, I decided to count the number of broken water pipes along the 20 km distance I commute to work; there were two. One was a large pipe alongside the main road and the other was inside my neighbourhood. This scenario reaches its peak in the winter, nowadays probably as a result of a decrease in demand for tap water and high water pressure inside pipes. Most visibly, broken pipes can represent breeding sites for mosquitoes...

New WHO Collaborating Centre in Geospatial Disease Modelling

January 20, 2014 - 14:35 -- Bart G.J. Knols
The University of Oxford has received designation as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Geospatial Disease Modelling. Based in the Spatial Ecology and Epidemiology Group (SEEG) in the Department of Zoology, this new designation primarily recognises the contributions of SEEG to supporting the modelling, monitoring and evaluation activities of the WHO Global Malaria Programme.

What should we do: Peer review or not?

January 16, 2014 - 13:36 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The science world is undergoing rapid changes, and so does the field of scientific publishing. The Lancet recently featured five articles on the current value and reduction of waste in biomedical research. An article in the Economist from a few months before titled 'How science goes wrong' is another eye-opener. Clearly, much is changing in the science world, and this includes us scientists working on malaria.

Here we are asking for your views regarding an issue we are discussing for the MalariaWorld Journal, entering its 5th volume this year: Should we continue with peer review, yes or no, or should we perhaps make it optional?

Press release: Malaria Conference Will Look to Israel’s Past for Modern Solutions

December 8, 2013 - 15:23 -- Bart G.J. Knols
MEDIA ADVISORY
INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE
 
Malaria Conference Will Look to Israel’s Past for Modern Solutions
Techniques that worked decades ago could help stop the annual 660,000 malaria deaths
Experts, field workers and historians will gather Dec. 8-12 in Jerusalem
Forgotten anti-malaria pioneer and his innovations to be recognized

Hebrew University - Malaria conference (8-12 December)

December 5, 2013 - 10:57 -- Bart G.J. Knols

From 8-12 December, a conference titled 'Revisiting Malaria: Moving from Control to Sustainable Elimination' will be organised at the Hebrew University-Hadassah, Jerusalem, Israel.

The meeting conincides with the Centennial commemoration of the activities undertaken by Prof. Israel Kligler (picture, 2nd row, left), who was instrumental in eliminating malaria from Palestine. Malaria that in many ways was similar in intensity and impact as malaria seen in many parts of Africa today.

The meeting will be held in the form of a workshop and lectures, looking at past historical successes in malaria elimination, reviewing our current focus, and looking forward to identify what will be needed to move from control to sustainable elimination.

Also, workshop participants will work on scenario's for malaria elimination in island settings and ecological islands. The aim is to assist managers of NMCPs in moving forward in their country towards malaria elimination.

Participants have been selected from a variety of backgrounds that are considered essential in the planning and execution of operational malaria programmes.

Outputs from the meeting will be reported here on MalariaWorld, including a declaration by the participants.

The meeting is generously supported by the following organisations:

Kuvin Foundation, Braun School of Public Health & Community Medicine; Hebrew University, Faculty of Medicine-Hadassah; Hadassah; British Friends of Hebrew University; Pears Foundation (UK); Jewish National Fund/Keren Keyemeth LeIsrael; TEVA; and The Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases.
 

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