Your MACEPA Malaria Minute: Potential China investment in malaria elimination

By Sarah Pickersgill
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow

Later this month, senior leadership from Zambia’s National Malaria Elimination Centre (NMEC), as well as MACEPA senior adviser Abdi Mohamed and MACEPA director Rick Steketee, are heading to China. This is on the heels of a trip there last month by Abdi, and, following that, a delegation from China and global partners to Zambia. That scoping mission included representatives from China’s National Institute of Parasitic Diseases (NIPD), the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the RBM Partnership To End Malaria, the World Health Organization, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Below are pictures of the team touring the NMEC lab and insectary (they also visited Chikankata District and the Copperbelt).

The scoping mission was the first step in developing the Government of China’s strategy to support malaria elimination efforts in Africa. Interest and experience from China is welcome as they are on the verge of malaria elimination; last year the country recorded no local transmission. Central to China’s elimination bid is its 1-3-7 surveillance and response strategy.

Photos: PATH/Todd Jennings

Twilio users visualize no malaria

Pictured below: Last Thursday, Kammerle Schneider, MACEPA’s deputy director, delivered a presentation at a Twillio Users Conference in Seattle.

She spoke about how rural populations receive treatment and testing from community health workers, an approach which requires additional resources to ensure high reporting rates and data quality. Twilio, part of the Visualize No Malaria partnership, uses a cloud-based SMS messaging service to send automated reminders to community health care workers and healthcare facilities to submit reports.

Bio of the day: Busiku Hamainza

During Tableau’s visit to Zambia last month, we had the chance to sit down with Busiku Hamainza and others to learn more about their work and why they do it. Check out this short clip from the interview and stay tuned for more!

In the news

This week, Paraguay was officially declared malaria-free by the WHO. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, remarked, “Success stories like Paraguay’s show what is possible. If malaria can be eliminated in one country, it can be eliminated in all countries.” In 2016, the WHO identified Paraguay as one of 21 countries with the potential to eliminate malaria by 2020. Through the E-2020 initiative, the WHO is supporting these countries as they scale up activities to become malaria-free. Other E-2020 countries in the Americas include Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, and Suriname. (MercoPress)

Listen to Tedros’ full remarks below.

When a mining firm in Obuasi, Ghana, found malaria was hampering its operations, it joined forces with locals and the government to find a solution. Ghana has the world’s fifth worst malaria burden. It is the number one reason outpatients go to hospital. But in Obuasi, this partnership with the mining company has led to a 75 percent drop in malaria cases in just eight years. Now others want to emulate their success. (The Guardian)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spun out a nonprofit biotech offspring, the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute. The institute’s focus is on diseases that disproportionately affect the poor: malaria, tuberculosis, and enteric diseases. Although the institute will have some labs, its focus will be on finding ideas already developed by academic labs or held in the portfolios of other biotech firms and seeing them through the treacherous middle stage of development as far as the proof-of-concept phase. Then the institute will look for commercial partners to take over. (STAT News)

With the numerous advances in malaria drugs and technologies, there is a call for more African and Africa-based scientists to add their voices to the debate, especially concerning genetic technologies. Laboratory developments taking place around the world are promising, but ultimately, technology will need to be custom-tailored to local mosquito populations, tested and deployed where it will have most impact—in Africa. Jonathan Kayondo writes that “to have the best chance of success with this emerging technology, the African continent must co-develop and harness it at the same time as our international partners.” (The Telegraph)

Since the beginning of 2018, 99 malaria-related deaths have been reported countrywide in South Sudan and almost 770,000 cases. “Currently malaria is the top cause of illness and death in South Sudan with most cases and deaths occurring in children and pregnant mothers especially in strife-torn areas affected by food insecurity and acute malnutrition,” said undersecretary in the Ministry of Health Makur Matur Kariom. (CGTN)

Rwanda pharmacies have begun offering “do-it-yourself” HIV kits to allow virus testing in the privacy of your home. According to the manufacturers, the test has a 99.7 percent accuracy rate, higher than at-home pregnancy tests. Though these tests would allow many to avoid the stigma often associated with going to clinics or other testing centres, some worry about the absence of counselling and other information normally provided when finding out your status at the clinic. (The Telegraph)

Experts say that the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo is at a critical point where good contact tracing is going to determine its extent. Contact tracing is the process through which everyone who has interacted with someone suspected of having Ebola is identified and monitored. However, this process is stressful for many Congolese who are suddenly surrounded by strangers, sometimes speaking in foreign languages, asking them about every move they’ve made in the past few days. (Washington Post)

A recent study in Malaria Journal examines the effectiveness of cross-border collaboration in malaria programs along the Angolan-Namibian border.

In a new study published in PLOS Genetics has identified a genetic difference between people with African and European ancestry that affects how the immune system triggers inflammation. The hypothesis: these differences could be rooted in how the immune system evolved due to evolutionary pressure exerted by malaria on ancestors who lived in Africa. (ScienceDaily)

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