Your MACEPA Malaria Minute (2/15/17)

By Stacey Naggiar
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow

Want to know how to do a rapid diagnostic test for malaria? We’re producing a “How to do an RDT” training video. Coming your way soon.

In the news

New research finds people already infected with malaria are especially attractive to mosquitoes. According the study, published in Science, mosquitoes are attracted to the “scent” of a metabolite produced by malaria parasites called HMBPP that circulates in the bloodstream of infected humans. Scientists hope the finding will pave the way for new drugs that target production of the metabolite. (via arstechnica)

In a small trial of the malaria vaccine PfSPZ, nine subjects were protected against malaria when exposed to the disease ten weeks after getting the last of the three-dose vaccine. The CEO of Sanaria, who developed the vaccine, said they hope to move quickly into phase-three clinical trials. (Press release via PR Newswire)

Researchers at the Emory Vaccine Center have identified biomarkers that give clues as to how well a person is protected from malaria after receiving the RTS,S malaria vaccine. According to the press release on EurekAlert, the findings have important implications for how RTS,S or other malaria vaccines will be deployed or modified. (RTS,S was developed by GlaxoSmithKline with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.)

“What are national governments willing to pay for malaria control?” Bill Brieger asks in his latest blog on “While domestic funding for malaria in African countries has increased in absolute terms over the years, it still remains a smaller proportion of total funding,” he says. And in many countries, households, not governments, are bearing the brunt of heath care costs associated with malaria. Brieger says African countries should scale up investment in interventions such as training community health workers through government and private funding.

In 2016, Cambodia recorded one death from malaria, down from nearly 400 deaths a decade ago. New data also found that from 2015 to 2016, overall malaria cases dropped 53 percent. The director of the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control attributed the country’s success to introducing new drugs artesunate plus mefloquine. (Via VOA Cambodia)

KT Press shares testimonies of how community health workers in Rwanda are improving the health of fellow community members by bringing services directly to patients. The country now has over 45,000 volunteer community health workers trained to test and treat malaria, provide immunization and nutritional education, and care for pneumonia and diarrheal disease and maternal/antenatal needs. According to the Ministry of Health, training CHWs in malaria has been associated with a decrease in the number of malaria cases. 

This one may not have a direct link to malaria or global health but we think it’s scientific enough to make the cut. Have you ever struggled to get ketchup out of the bottle? The truth is, ketchup can’t really decide if it wants to be a liquid or solid. But don’t be dismayed, a biomedical engineer in Australia came up with some tips to get the job done. Start by shaking the bottle with the cap on, turn it upside down, remove the cap, tilt and pour. Enjoy! (via New York Times)

On global health

The global health community is mourning the loss of Hans Rosling. Dr. Rosling, a Swedish doctor and statistician, transformed numbers into compelling visualizations and became an inspirational kind of pop star to many working in global health and development. His foundation, Gapminder, uses “data images designed to evoke the divide between statistics and the misleading ways in which they are sometimes interpreted.” (via New York Times)

Ten years after a substantial investment from their friend Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates publicly posted a letter to Buffet on gatesnotes. The letter is a response to one from Buffet, who thought the public would be interested in learning about “why success in philanthropy is measured differently from success in business or government.” Some highlights below:

  • 122 million children’s lives saved since 1990.
  • Global coverage for childhood vaccinations is the highest it’s ever been—86 percent.
  • Practices like breastfeeding, clean cord cutting, and kangaroo care have helped Rwanda see a 30 percent decrease in the newborn mortality rate from 2008–2015.
  • “Nutrition is the biggest missed opportunity in global health.”
  • 300 million women in the developing world are using modern contraceptives.
  • Polio is closest to reaching the magic number zero—malaria, TB, HIV, malnutrition, and preventable deaths, are also trying to reach zero.

Can a water bottle left in the sun rid itself of disease-causing bacteria? Sure it can, in the lab at least. But researcher Kevin McGuigan has had difficulty proving success with solar disinfection in rural Africa. Listen to the podcast BBC News World Hacks to find out why uptake of this seemingly simple technology has been difficult in communities where death from water-borne diseases are most common. The story has an important lesson about including perspectives of the communities you are trying to reach when designing solutions.

In many African cultures, religious leaders can be a valuable entry point into communities as well as powerful communicators for health messages. A new study published in the Lancet looked at whether educating religious leaders about male circumcision (which has been shown to reduce HIV transmission) would increase uptake of the practice. In Tanzania, villages were randomly assigned to receive Ministry of Health sensitization about male circumcision or MOH sensitization plus religious leader orientation. The researchers found a substantial effect on uptake of circumcision with 52.8 percent of males circumcised in villages where religious leaders were educated and 29.5 percent in villages that received the standard intervention. The authors expect the results are generalizable to other regions in sub-Saharan Africa and can be applied to the promotion of other healthy behaviors. (Read more in the Commentary)

Pastor William Dennis McDonald (above) in Livingstone, Zambia, at a meeting to orient religious leaders on malaria mass drug administration. “Once you reach out to religious leaders, you have reached out to the entire community since every member of a community belongs to a church,” he said.

Maybe you’ve heard about Zambia’s rainy season, but have you seen it? Watch this YouTube video with clips from a recent MACEPA road trip through Southern and Western provinces to get a sense of Zambian roads during the rain. Produced by Todd Jennings.


Tune into @path_macepa on Instagram next week for a series on the Steps of Elimination.

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