This may seem a ridiculous question. With 280 million people diseased every year, and 850.000 deaths, how can one argue that malaria is not important?
The current enthusiasm for malaria control in Africa will bring us much closer to our goal if we build on the successes of the past, and avoid repeating the mistakes. The major mistake in the global Malaria Eradication Program of 1955 was to embark on an unsustainable strategy, which collapsed within a decade. We need to ensure that current strategies do not repeat this mistake.
Dr. Dondorp is the Deputy Director and Head of malaria research at the Mahidol-Oxford Research Unit in Bangkok, Thailand, where he plans, coordinates and supervises clinical and laboratory malaria studies.
'TH!NK3: Developing world' is the third round of the European Journalism Centre's widely acclaimed international blogging competition series. The participants of TH!NK3 (called "TH!NKers") are journalism students, academics and experts from 27 EU Member States, neighbourhood countries and beyond.
Objectors to applications in public health assert that because it is impossible to obtain informed consent that the technology is inadequate. What a remarkable conclusion!
These days, not only scientists are debating about the existence and potential impact of climate change. Since the mishaps in the fourth assessment report of the IPCC were revealed and received enormous media exposure, even my parents in law (non-scientists) have been asking me about it. Now I wonder when my 3-year old daughter will start casting doubts…
In the early 1990s, when scientists first came up with a radical new idea to engineer mosquitoes that would no longer be capable of transmitting pathogens, some thought of an even more fantastic application. Use mosquitoes to vaccinate people. Silence followed until now...
Dr. Corbel is currently a senior researcher at IRD, and based at the CREC in Cotonou in Benin. Following five years of heading the WHO collaborating centre for the evaluation of new public health pesticides he moved to Benin where he undertakes highly interesting studies aimed at improving vector control across Africa.
Now that we're reaching the end of the first decade in which the world focused on the Millenium Development Goals, it is time to look both back and forward. Several competitions have been set up to get both amateur and professional journalists interested in writing about the failures and successes so far, including malaria. But the Guardian has a special way of doing this...
Raphael N’Guessan is a Medical Entomologist and West Africa IVCC programme manager based in Benin. His current research interests are on malaria vector control, with particular emphasis on control of resistant vectors, insecticide resistance management, and investigation of alternative strategies for its delay.
Q: Dear Raphael, please tell us what the main focus of your work is, and why this is important within the framework of malaria control and elimination.
There is great historical and practical value in looking at the successful attack on malaria in Italy during the past century, and then going ahead to plan for the attack on malaria in Africa during this century.
Dr. Gunilla Priebe recently graduated from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) on a most interesting topic. She advocates further Africanisation of malaria research based on her study of the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria. Some questions for Gunilla...
Question/Bart: If you argue for more research in the South, then what should the role of scientists in the North be(come)?...
“If the malaria control program(s) I manage receives 5% of its current funds 5 years from now, would the maximum level of transmission reduction we have achieved during that time be maintained 5 years later?”
E-interviews are a new section on MalariaWorld, where we interview members about their work and role in the field of malaria. This is our first e-interview, with Mr. Fredros Okumu, working at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania and PhD student at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Last week, Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft executive, presented a fascinating new invention to the world during a talk at the TED conference. The TED talks are renowned for providing a stage for great people with great ideas...
Speaking at TED means a lot of global attention, and Myhrvold played his cards right. With a display of the invention that uses laser technology to shoot down mosquitoes on the wing, and some stunning video footage, it was certain that the global press would jump on the story. Hundreds of websites and facebook pages covered this breakthrough, that was twittered to hundreds of thousands of people around the planet. Intellectual Ventures, the company headed by Myhrvold, has done well this week.
Interestingly, although the world may think this is a new invention, it is not. The Wall Street Journal ran an article on the same invention on 14 March 2009. Back then the video footage wasn't as exciting, leading to limited press attention. But why did Myhrvold not use the last ten months to demonstrate the potential of his invention in the real world, in a rural setting somewhere in Africa?
On 18 January I flew from Amsterdam to Copenhagen for a 3-day workshop on malaria and architecture. The KLM Fokker 100 took off in time at 07.05 am, and nothing eventful happened until the time I opened the in-flight magazine Holland Herald…
The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine invites applications for Three PhD studentships in the Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases.
Seattle Biomedical Research Institute is actively recruiting a high energy Project Manager for Dr. Kappe’s scientific programs, including GAP vaccine research and clinical trials.
The James Gang at UC Irvine has made a useful contribution to the question of whether or not transgenic mosquitoes are fit.
In the Lancet of 5 February 1910 I discovered a most interesting little article about malaria on Antigua island (Carribean)...
There is a good reason for putting out a large variety of products with similar function on the market – like cars. It simply has to do with our innate differences in preference with regard to colour, shape, make, etc. Some like a blue car, others a white or a red one. And, suprise surprise, the great level of differentation means that almost everyone can find a car that matches his/her preferences at an affordable price....
Ninety years ago it was discovered that mosquitoes track us down at night by responding to the smell we as humans produce. Since then, many studies have focused on identifying the nature of the chemicals we produce with the aim to use them to lure mosquitoes to trapping devices, thereby interrupting bloodfeeding and thus transmission of diseases like malaria. But why is there still no trap available for use in the developing world where malaria hits hardest?
The statistics say it all: 70% of the transmission of infectious diseases is focused in and around the house. Including malaria, where the key vectors in Africa are almost exclusively feeding indoors and at night. The forum on MalariaWorld that discussed this issue was very well read (more than 1000 views), and although comments were limited, it was enough to move forward with the idea...
Those who colonize mosquitoes are rightfully protective of them. Some species require a large amount of work to establish in the laboratory, and many of you have given your blood, sweat, holidays, and earnest attention to ensuring they exist. When you distribute it, you are giving a gift.
SECOND LAW FOR ATTACKING MALARIA IN AFRICA
If you are going to attack malaria in Africa, you don’t have to throw the kitchen sink at it, but you better use everything else.
In most African countries bednets have become common and are contributing to saving countless lives of children. Scaling up of this intervention continues in the second decade of this millennium. Indoor residual spraying is widely practiced though a less common sight in many parts of Africa where spray teams do not reach far-off communities in rural settings.
FIRST LAW IN THE ATTACK ON MALARIA IN AFRICA
The attack on malaria will be like building a tall cathedral or a beautiful mosque, it will take generations.
I know this web site is MALARIA World. But the field of genetic control of vectors is so small that I hope you will indulge me in a blog that reaches into arbovirology and highlights the kind of technology we might anticipate against Plasmodia in Anopheles. Genetic control of vectors received another Christmas gift when a bonus remarkable phenotype due to Wolbachia infection - in addition to cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) and life shortening - was reported in Cell.
While it might appear that the call for eradication will bring out lots of enthusiasm, it is hard to see how we can mount a global program, based on fantasy.
And let's admit that the Gates and Clinton Foundations mean well but are divorced from reality, USAID and the PMI are mired in decades of bureaurocratic tangles, and the UN and WHO left the scene a long time ago, so the attack on malaria in Africa will progress as Africa progresses.
Realism will work better than fantasy.
Let's take Africa, where most malaria deaths occur. A realistic strategy would be to start in the stable, most democratic countries, and gradually develop competent national programs, employing nationals who live in the malaria zone, who can progress upward in their civil service by making progress against malaria in small and carefully measured increments.
So they would reduce malaria prev in school kids by 10% each year, at a cost within the national budget realities. That gives us a solid foundation for progress. Forget the magic bullets and fantasy. Malaria control takes careful application of proven methods - all of them - in a rational strategy that reflects budget realities as well as the ecology of malaria.
Start with the solid countries, where investments will not be wasted on some dictator and his cronies. Start with Senegal, Mali and Ghana. With Tanzania and Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and blessed South Africa. Grow those programs slowly and carefully. Use them as training grounds for folks around them who speak the same language. Realize that we are dealing with Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Swahili.
Final note: I think it is the third law of for attacking malaria in Africa - The dictators are as dangerous as the mosquitoes.