By Sarah Pickersgill
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
Mosquitoes vs. mankind
This week kicked off with World Mosquito Day on Sunday, August 20. The day was first established in 1897, when the link between mosquitoes and malaria transmission was discovered by Sir Ronald Ross. Today, in efforts to combat this persistent foe, MACEPA teams are helping conduct indoor residual spraying (IRS) trainings in Western Province, Zambia.
Pictured below, IRS training is being conducted for environmental health officers, IRS supervisors, and malaria focal point persons at Senanga School of Nursing in Western Province, Zambia. Approximately 56 participants are practicing wall spraying and learning how to dismantle and assemble spray pumps. These participants will then go and train the spray operators in their own districts.
Also this week, Toyota Zambia LTD donated 5,400 insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) to the Ministry of Health to assist with this year’s mass campaign. Toyota Zambia’s CFO, Thomson Phiri, as a private sector partner investment in malaria prevention, handed over the nets to Minister of Health Dr. Chitalu Chilufya at the ceremony yesterday. Pictured below: Dr. Chilufya and Ketty Ndhlovu, principal ITN officer at the Zambia National Malaria Elimination Centre.
In the news
Bill Gates gave away $4.6 billion in Microsoft shares in June to his personal charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Part of these proceeds will go to fund his new malaria campaign named “Mosquito Wars”. The Gates Foundation will donate a mosquito net for every person who reads his latest blog post and takes the quiz at the end. (via Forbes)
Check out the Gates Blog, “Mosquito Wars”, for information on new interventions, VR videos, and a chance to send mosquito nets to Mozambique.
A new drug from Novartis and Medicines for Malaria Venture has entered the mid-stage testing phase across nine countries in Africa and Asia. The development of this drug, currently known as KAF156, will hopefully stave off the growing threat of drug-resistance. Novartis expects to complete the phase 2b study by late 2019, but it is still too early to say when this new drug would reach the market. (via Bloomberg, FT, Reuters)
In crisis-ridden Venezuela, malaria cases could triple as the country suffers from a shortage of medication. One miner reported 40 encounters with malaria due to relapses caused by the scarcity of proper treatment. There are also concerns that neighboring countries may be at risk as the malaria outbreak is spreading from the mines to urban centers around the country. (via Al Jazeera)
On Malaria Matters, Bill Brieger looks at several recent studies in Tanzania, Rwanda, and along the China-Myanmar border concerning asymptomatic malaria infections. Sensitive methods for detecting asymptomatic malaria are increasingly essential for low-endemicity areas aiming to eliminate malaria.
APLMA CEO Dr. Benjamin Rofle discusses vector control strategies in Asia and what will be needed to reach malaria elimination. As numerous vector-borne diseases continue to make headlines, he notes that malaria still causes the most mosquito-borne deaths in Asia and that continued support for elimination efforts is critical. (via Asian Correspondent)
In 2013, catalyzed by the Ebola outbreak, Africa’s own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) was devised. However, new resources must be made available if Africa’s CDC is going to repeat the success of the American CDC in eliminating malaria. (via Scientific American)
How can readily available data in urban centers be leveraged within existing malaria surveillance systems? Susannah Horton of Athena Health says that collecting both health and non-health data, utilizing an integrated data system, and sustaining technical know-how can aid in tackling vector-borne diseases like malaria. (via Devex)
The US Department of Defense has awarded a million dollar grant to scientists genetically engineering mosquitoes to be blind to human scent. The idea is to either knock out the receptors on the mosquito that are responsible for responding to human smells, or replace them with receptors from other mosquito species that feed on other animals in the environment. (via The Mirror)
A pilot program in Nigeria is using smartphones to track the mass distribution of insecticide-treated nets. Results indicated that the geographic information systems (GIS) could be used to identify communities that were missed during registration and to help identify convenient distribution points. (via ReliefWeb)
Nigerian ecologist Habib Omotosho is urging the government to take action against indiscriminate dumping of solid and liquid waste. He argues that the uncollected waste can block the drains leading to flooding and the spread of diseases like malaria. (via The Guardian)
The use of liquid nitrogen and advanced microscope techniques has enabled a new, real-time study of malaria. A group of international scientists are studying how malaria attacks red blood cells and developing new ideas on how to combat it. (via Phys.org)
New from PATH
Check out the PATH blog this week for an in-depth look at the malaria vaccine by Dr. Ashley Birkett, leader of PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI). Learn about the long road to discovery and what lies ahead for RTS,S.