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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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Starting Everywhere

We are often told that the fight against malaria ought to be realistically targeted at elimination rather than the far-fetched notion of eradication. But the continued loss of over six hundred thousand lives to the disease every year has driven stakeholders to demand its eradication from human populations as soon as possible.

“You have to move away from thinking about how to reduce morbidity and mortality to thinking more about how to interrupt transmission,” says Dr Marcel Tanner, Director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

He was speaking at a Malaria Forum convened by Harvard University on how best to control and eliminate malaria at the global, regional and country level.

“Looking at the disease alone is not enough. Looking at health systems alone is also not enough. You have to start everywhere,” Dr Tanner said. “If you leave the tough part until the end, you won’t reach your goal.”

Dr Tanner, co-chair of the Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (MalERA) is among experts who have called for a global focus on new research priorities as demanded by a shift in anti-malaria strategy, from control to eradication.

Giving a typical example of “starting everywhere,” the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is keeping malaria high on the global agenda through interactions with stakeholders.

The world-renowned institution has joined forces with partners to launch a leadership development course on the “Science of Eradicating malaria.”

Programme Organizer, Dyann Wirth, Professor of Infectious Diseases at the HSPH and Director of the Harvard Malaria Initiative, told Eyes on Malaria that the course grew out of a 2011 conference to examine progress toward malaria eradication and assess what it would take for the effort to be successful.

“Together with partners at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Harvard Medical School aims to convene the ‘basic’ course module on an annual basis.”

The course enrols a wide range of stakeholders to learn about a variety of topics, including the history of eradication efforts, the science of malaria, the economics behind the disease and case studies.

Prof Wirth said the course was designed to bring diverse perspectives to participants, beyond the usual disciplines like public health because this is a critical factor in the success of this new agenda.

“The eradication of malaria, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, will require closing the knowledge gap related to several complex biological and environmental challenges because the disease first inhabits a mosquito and then a human host.”

Prof Wirth said universities like Harvard can aid international efforts by providing scientific expertise on topics such as the complex biology of the disease, which involves not just a parasite, but also mosquitoes and humans.

“Harvard can also help by offering guidance in areas where members of other faculties specialize, such as business and government policy. It can also train those in the field, through courses like ours” she said.

Part of the failure in the last eradication effort in the 1950s, according to Professor Wirth, was that when resistance to drugs developed, there was no research effort from which to draw new tools for those in the field.

“This time around, it’s important that universities stay engaged for the decades it may take for the effort to succeed. We’re really trying to say that the academic community stays engaged,” Prof Wirth said.

“We need research. We need to monitor. We have a responsibility to train the next generation and the generation after that.”

Prof Wirth emphasised the need to bring together leaders not just from science, but also from business, the non-profit sector and charitable foundations, who bring a focus on policy to the discussion.

“The world has stood in a similar place before, with an effective insecticide, DDT and a new treatment drug, chloroquine, only to squander the gains,” said Prof Wirth.

“Future editions of the course will be hosted in rotation between the three academic consortium institutions. The 2013 edition of the ‘Science of Eradication: Malaria leadership development course’ will take place in Barcelona, Spain.”

“Some of the modules provide participants an opportunity to examine existing tools to reduce and prevent transmission, diagnostics, understanding changes in transmission patterns, current tools for low and moderate transmission and new transmission blocking vaccine interventions.”

The Harvard Forum featured participants from the United Nations, ExxonMobil Foundation, Sumitomo Chemical America and Reservoir Capital Group.

Drug resistance is a concern, Wirth said. A drug-resistant form of the malaria parasite has emerged in Southeast Asia, though it has so far not made the jump to Africa. Still, she said, a malaria-carrying mosquito can bite multiple people, and a single case can lead to as many as 100 secondary cases, meaning the disease can spread rapidly if neglected.

“Gains need to be solidified or outbreaks can erase progress. That means continued research into new drugs and insecticides is critical. This is a potentially explosive disease.” The determination and hard work of pioneers, who brought back malaria on the global agenda, deserve to be commended.

The Harvard malaria course has to be emulated by universities especially those in malaria-endemic areas. The average adult in malaria-prone areas loses some 20 days of work a year due to the disease. The anaemia that’s commonly associated with the ailment lingers after they return to their jobs, causing a 10 percent loss in productivity.

Experts say the complexity of malaria, demands a multi-faceted collaboration with stakeholders like NGOs, health care facilities and scientists, backed by community acceptance and goodwill.     

With regard to the actions and contributions of the business community in malaria-endemic areas, Suzanne McCarron, President of the ExxonMobil Foundation, said the company started a $100 million anti-malaria programme.

“ExxonMobil can’t replace government action, but it does share its experiences of malaria’s economic impact with government leaders,” she said.

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