This week, Harvard School of Public Health's Associate Professor Winston Hide made a courageous move: he resigned from being the associate editor of the journal Genomics (an Elsevier journal). Why? Because he could no longer accept the inability of scientists in developing countries to access full articles stuck behind paywalls thrown up by publishers. A bold and remarkable step. He published the rationale for making this decision this week in the Guardian.
This week WHO reiterated the fragility of the gains the world has made over the last decade through intense deployment of vector control in the fight against malaria. Reuters published an online article on the matter titled 'Insecticide resistance threatens malaria fight'. In it, WHO Director General, Margaret Chan, warns of the seriousness of the situation in Africa and India. Apparently, in ever more places the toolbox, filled with four classes of chemicals, is gradually emptying.
Last week, WHO published a statement regarding the potential of larviciding for malaria control in Africa. This followed the circulation of a draft version of the statement in August 2011. That draft was sent to a limited group of people (how many I don't know) for comments (including myself). I attach the official version to this editorial.
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The editorial below was written by Camilla Beech, Regulatory Affairs Manager, Oxitec Ltd, UK, partially as a response to a recent editorial by Guy Reeves, on regulatory aspects of GM mosquitoes.
Having spent over 10 years developing novel genetic approaches to control insect pests, we’re acutely aware of the importance of proceeding with caution, of doing so in a transparent and open manner, and of engaging in the most effective way possible with the diverse communities who have an interest in the development and use of these new technologies.
The article below was written by Dr. Bill Jobin and first posted as a comment under the most recent poll. I elevated it to a Guest editorial.
It is unfortunate that we have recently seen a great deal of confusion about the amount of malaria in Africa. The confusion arises because most of the people making the estimates are not scientists but artists; computer artists. It would be better if we relied on scientists. Computer artists, using their own data and their own inspirations, get varying answers and generate conflicting maps and graphs. But scientists, using standardized techniques and randomized sampling, get the same answers, no matter who is doing the work. We urgently need accurate numbers on malaria...
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.
This guest editorial was written by Dr. Guy Reeves of the Max-Planck institute in Plön, Germany.
One thing that the poorest living in developing countries recognize is real hazard. What does this mean for those planning to implement genetic control programs?
I blogged recently that getting the facts out about genetic engineering of mosquitoes would not be enough to persuade those who are hard anti-GM activists that they can be safely developed. I also argued that becoming an activist allowed one to abandon the bothersome constraints of truth. AAAS appears to agree with me, but have they made the right call?
This Guest Editorial was written by Anton Alexander (retired solicitor, UK), based on an online presentation about Palestine and how it freed itself from malaria. No doubt of interest to those studying the history of malaria, but equally important for those that are criticial about malaria elimination.
Another group has engineered an anopheline to have a degree of Plasmodium immunity. Some of us hope for a mosquito that is ready to take a trip to the field, but can this one go the distance? Is it advisable?
Year after year in December we're seeing the fruits of our collective efforts to combat malaria reflected in the 'World Malaria Report' series produced by the World Health Organisation. And in those reports, year after year, we saw progression in terms of falling numbers of deaths. But today we're confronted with a harsh reality - the figures that were presented to us were off. Way off.
The openness of scientists involved in the creation of genetic control methods against mosquitoes has been questioned in popular press and activist outlets. Therefore the results of a recent survey on this subject deserve attention. Do scientists want to conduct their research without oversight and public engagement?
This guest editorial was written by Dr. Lotte Van Dijk in The Netherlands.
Many of you will have come across counterfeit or substandard drugs in your careers and I’m sure many of you will understand my frustration. Therefore, I was really happy to see that the study on poor-quality anti-malarials by Dr Paul Newton and his team got the attention of the media. Even though their study was not large-scale and even though it cannot provide an accurate estimation of the prevalence of the fake anti-malarials all over Africa, it does provide an insight into the seriousness of the problem: it is severe!
Behind the scenes at MalariaWorld, we keep a close eye on where our site visitors originate from. Nothing secretive (and we don't see names, so do not worry!), it's just Google analytics that I receive every single week.
Quick question: For those of you who work in a recombinant DNA lab, what is the most hazardous chemical that you use on a daily basis? To put it another way, what chemical do you ALWAYS wear gloves to handle? Probably the same one that I do, but risk perception and reality aren’t always the same thing.
When it comes to genetic control of mosquitoes, risks are a hot topic, so it’s useful to consider the answer to this question.
The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI), Malaria Research Institute, has an International faculty search for an entomologist/malariologist research associate
at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Institute at Macha (MIAM), Zambia.
The closing date for applications is January 31, 2012.
Organisation: Imperial College London, Division of Cell & Molecular Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, UK
Salary: £31,300 – £33,920 per annum
Closing date: 9 January 2012 (midnight GMT)
There is recent interest in the odours from human feet and how they attract blood-sucking mosquitoes. And apparently the odours are from bacteria on the skin, not necessarily of human origin.
This reminds me of the story of Ignaz Semmelweis of Vienna who confounded his physician colleagues by reporting that deaths in childbirth could be reduced drastically if the attending physician would just wash his hands. Of course such a radical idea took a long time to be accepted. In fact I think Semmelweis was drummed out of the profession.
Closing date for completed applications:
Monday 5th December 2011, 9am
Salary: £30,870 - £35,789 per annum
Full Time, Fixed term for 5 years
Can we be confident that if we get the facts out that genetic control of mosquitoes will be accepted for testing to prevent diseases? In the face of anti-GM activists, scientists have their hands tied by an intractable force – a professional demand to simply present the facts. Should scientists become more persuasive by becoming activists?
The article below was contributed by journalist Ntaryike Divine Jr. (Douala, Cameroon) as part of the SjCOOP project in collaboration with MalariaWorld.
On August 20 2011 amid bloated pomp, Cameroon’s Prime Minister Philemon Yang flagged off a countrywide government campaign to distribute over 8.6 million long lasting insecticidal mosquito bednets gratis. But the operation that was initially slated to span a dozen days from 8 to 20 September is yet to take off in six of the country’s ten administrative regions.
The Tropical Institute and Max von Pettenkofer – Institute of the University of Munich offer a PhD position for at least 3 years for their Malaria Projects in Munich and Africa.
Deadline for applications: 14 November 2011