By Stacey Naggiar
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
The MACEPA Zambia team recently attended the Fourth Annual Roll Back Malaria Social Behavior Change Working Group meeting in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The team attended three days of sessions related to best practices for community engagement and behavior change to push forward agendas of malaria control and elimination.
Abdullah Ali, Zanzibar Program manager, presenting at the Roll Back Malaria meeting.
“In the absence of community engagement, malaria elimination will still remain a fallacy,” he said.
In the news
The World Health Organization has recommended a new class of insecticide called Interceptor G2 to be used for treated mosquito nets. Currently, pyrethroids are the only class approved and on the market. As experts have grown increasingly concerned about resistance, the race is on to develop new insecticides. BASF, the company that produced the chemical, also has an insecticide for indoor residual spraying under WHO review. (via Reuters)
A study from researchers at UCSF finds that global funding for malaria elimination is on the decline. While government funding increased in many affected countries, donor funding went down, raising concerns about achieving elimination. Specifically, funding decreased for surveillance efforts. (via EurekAlert)
Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have successfully sequenced more than half the genes of the malaria parasite. They discovered that more than two-thirds of the genes are essential for survival, providing important clues about how the savvy disease has managed to escape eradication for so long. (via Reuters)
The Gambia is aiming to eliminate malaria by 2020, an effort to be the first sub-Saharan country to rid itself of the disease. The Gambian National Malaria Control Programme points to a $25 million funding gap that needs to be filled in order to successfully eliminate. (via Reuters)
A study in mice found that a drug used to treat malaria in pregnant women reduced transmission of Zika to fetuses. More study is needed but researchers say “treating Zika-infected pregnancies with autophagy-inhibiting drugs” may lower the risk of abnormalities like microcephaly. (via National Institutes of Health)
Reuters has a feature piece looking at a range of products being developed by tech companies to combat mosquito-borne disease. From smart traps developed by Microsoft to robotic sorting machines that work to separate mosquitoes by sex, the devices offer a potential new means of vector control.
Scientists at Notre Dame have found that a pulsing white light at nighttime may have a powerful effect on the biting behavior of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. In the study, mosquitoes exposed to the pulsing light for ten minutes were less likely to bite during, immediately after, and several hours after the treatment. (via Digital Trends)
On a reporting trip to Liberia, NYTimes columnist Nicholas Kristoff observed the effectiveness of humanitarian aid. “…What’s at stake isn’t numbers in a budget, but children’s lives,” he writes. Through the lens of a child suffering from cerebral malaria, Kristoff points to mosquito nets, community health workers, and medicines as a few examples of where foreign money makes a big difference.
On Malaria Matters, Bill Brieger writes about the link between family planning and malaria “via preventing pregnancies in malaria endemic areas where the disease leads to anemia, death, low birth weight and stillbirth.” He goes on to say that in order to eliminate malaria efforts need to include a population health focus that looks at transmission trends within specific groups of individuals.
Insecticide-treated net distribution
Zambia kicked off the mass distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) in Luapula Province last week, the first province to start the nationwide process. PATH’s PAMO project, supported by the President’s Malaria Initiative, has been leading the effort for distribution in four provinces.
Local school children sang and read poems and the honored guest, Dr. Peter Bwalaya, provincial health director of Luapula, addressed the crowd to encourage all Zambians to sleep under a mosquito net.
Dr. Bwalaya also cut the ribbon to open the first container of ITNs and officially commence distribution.
Fellows come and fellows go
A warm welcome to the 2017–2018 Global Health Corps Fellows for MACEPA. Innocent Tembo is a malaria program officer supporting various aspects of the project and Sarah Pickersgill is an advocacy and communications officer.
Editor’s note: And, of course, farewell to outgoing 2016–2017 Global Health Corps Fellows Stacey Naggiar and Chipasha Mwansa. Thank you both for all your great work in the past year. We at MACEPA have been lucky to work with you and we can’t wait to see what you do next. You will be missed.