By Sarah Pickersgill
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
PATH CEO Steve Davis recently gave a TEDx Talk on diseases we can eradicate in our lifetime. Highlighting PATH’s work in Zambia, he stressed the power of data and how it has helped drive a 93 percent reduction in malaria in Southern Province in just three years. “Disease eradication is a must. I’m not okay with a world where wealthy countries get to eliminate diseases, but poor countries must constantly battle to control them,” Davis said. Hear more from Steve on disease eradication strategies in his TEDxTalk.
We encourage you to give the whole video a watch, but if you’re pressed for time, Steve comes in at 45:12 of Session 2. Also, check out additional coverage of the event from King5 News. Enjoy!
Senegal commits to the malaria fight
On Friday, November 17, mayors from different sides of Senegal have signed a pledge, committing to the fight against malaria. The panel consisted of the permanent secretary of the Mayors Association of Senegal (AMS), Oumar Ba, the President of the AMS Health Commission, Oury Diallo, along with Moustapha Cissé of the National Malaria Control Program and Fara Ndiaye, deputy executive director of Speak Up Africa.
In the news
US President Donald Trump’s proposed 44 percent cut to President’s Malaria Initiative funding could lead to a worldwide resurgence of malaria. A new mathematical modeling study estimates that, if approved, this cut will lead to an additional 67 million malaria cases and 290,649 malaria deaths over the next four years. PATH’s Leader of Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases Program, Larry Slutsker, is quoted in this Reuters article, voicing his concerns over the impact that reduced funding will have on progress in the fight against malaria.
The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has appointed Peter Sands as its new executive eirector. “Peter Sands brings exceptional management and finance experience, and a heart for global health,” said Aida Kurtović, board chair of the Global Fund. Sands’ goals are to mobilize funds, build strong health systems, and establish effective community responses. (The Global Fund)
A drug-resistant strain of malaria, impervious to artemisinin and piperaquine, threatens Vietnam’s efforts in malaria elimination. Considered on track to meet the WHO goal of eliminating falciparum malaria in Southeast Asia by 2030, Vietnam’s success could be in jeopardy. Kidong Park, WHO’s representative in Vietnam, notes the global implications, stating “if we fail here, it will spread to other parts of the world.” (The New York Times)
At the Reaching the Last Mile Summit on Wednesday, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a $100 million fund to eliminate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis from key countries in Africa and the Middle East. The two also announced the creation of a disease elimination institute to translate data and technological advances into policy. (Devex)
Check out this Q&A with Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO Global Malaria Program in Geneva, Switzerland. Read about his vision for the future of malaria elimination efforts. (Devex)
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Elimination Eight director Kudzai Makomva says that out of the eight countries targeting malaria elimination, Zambia is the only one that continues on a positive path. (ZNBC)
Research published in Nature on Monday shows that anti-malaria drug chloroquine could also be used to fight Zika. “Although chloroquine didn’t completely clear Zika from infected mice, it did reduce the viral load, suggesting it could limit the neurological damage found in newborns infected by the virus,” said Dr. Alexey Terskikh, a scientist at the Sandford Brunham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. (CBS Miami)
WeRobotics, a tech company working largely in sub-Saharan Africa, is using drones to release sterile male mosquitoes in order to stop the spread of diseases like malaria. Using drones for the deployment of vector control strategies is highly beneficial when it comes to issues of access, a major hurdle in malaria elimination efforts. “A lot of the places where these diseases exist are also places where roads do not exist. The drones could spread the mosquitoes where there are no roads,” said Adam Klaptocz, WeRobotics co-founder. (BBC)
A research team found a new species of Laverania malaria, a parasite closely related to the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, in bonobos. An absence of Plasmodium was also observed, a trend for which the researches haven’t identified a cause yet. These discoveries could reveal valuable insights into the evolution and transmission of the malaria parasite, possibly revealing some of its potential weaknesses. (GEN)