NEWS: 5th MIM Pan-African Malaria Conference 5 November 2009
Malaria Consortium on the ground at MIM
Malaria Consortium staff at the conference:
- Elimination /eradication day at MIM
Control, elimination, eradication and extermination are successive stages in the war against malaria. To emphasise the importance of this new way of thinking in the malaria world there were two plenary sessions dedicated to this area.
There have been efforts in the past to eliminate malaria which were partially successful as Europe and the US are now malaria free areas (no transmission of malaria, only imported cases). These efforts faltered when political will and money ran out. Although they were called global eradication programmes, for the most part they neglected Africa unless military or colonial interests were at stake. Advocacy needs to increase and the attention of the world needs to continue to focus on this important task.
There are two approaches to malaria at the moment. One focuses on reducing the malaria map by attacking low transmission areas where elimination is possible. The second is to focus resources on areas where the burden is high and where the majority of mortality and morbidity occurs.
These two approaches should not compete for resources by too heavy an importance being placed on elimination/eradication at this time. There have been some remarkable success stories in countries where Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), the currently most effective drug treatment for malaria, and prevention tools have achieved high coverage in smaller areas such as Eritrea, Rwanda and Zanzibar.
Several presentations at the conference noted the dramatic effects of ACTs in reducing transmission. The explanation for this is not well understood but could be due to reduction in the parasite burden in children aged under five. Zambia has also make remarkable progress in reducing its malaria burden by early introduction of ACTs and delivery of the ACTs at community level along with the use of rapid diagnostic tests in primary health care centres and at the community level.
The approach to malaria control has to change from one of treating the illness to preventing infection and blocking transmission. Vaccines, if proved to be effective, could be important instruments in this fight and vaccine development is rapidly progressing with one vaccine in Phase 3 trials and others being field trialled.
Presentations during the day presented interesting research on IEC/BCC (information, education and communication and behaviour change communication) and new ways of treating severe malaria. There were also presentations on new drugs and paediatric formulations of old drugs.
Delegates were also presented with worrying information about the lack of new drugs in the pipeline which are not based on artemisinins and aminoquinolones, and the fact that there are no new approaches towards a radical cure for the plasmodium vivax parasite. The only drugs currently available for this were developed in 1934 and have severe problems for people with G6DP deficiency anemia.
Dr Prudence Hamade
Days 1 and 2
- “Things have grown so much since the first MIM Conference in 1999, with its hundreds of delegates. Now there are thousands at this fifth conference. Introductory speeches were given by Awa Coll Seck and Robert Newman.
Malaria Consortium’s Albert Kilian presented on the first day - the topic was a modelling approach to evaluation distribution strategies for universal ITN coverage.
Also on the first day, Harry Tagbor, a COMDIS partner in Ghana, presented his study on the additional benefits of intermittent preventative treatment in children (IPTc) when combined with home management of malaria.
On the second day, Helen Counihan presented a study on community health workers using rapid diagnosis for malaria in Zambia.
Other interesting presentations so far have been on the effect of intermittent preventative treatment in pregnancy on neonatal and infant mortality and the additional protective effect of IPTc when given to children even when they sleep under bed nets, vaccines with attenuated whole parasites, and the pharmacokinetics of antimalarials in pregnant women and the fact they may need different dosages regimes from non-pregnant adults.”
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What is MIM?
With malaria deaths still at unacceptable levels in Africa, the world’s largest gathering of the malaria community will convene next week in Nairobi, Kenya, to highlight the latest work of malaria researchers from across Africa and the world.
The Fifth Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Malaria Conference
, held from 1-6 November, 2009, will bring together more than 1,500 scientists, policymakers, health care workers, community members, and other experts on the disease. The latest research on drugs, insecticides, and vaccines will be presented over the six days of the conference. Last held in 2005, this is the first time the conference has been hosted by an African organisation – Africa Malaria Network Trust (AMANET)
MIM on the World Malaria Day civil society website
Civil society working on malaria has a lot to offer proceedings in Nairobi, the MIM conference is also the focus of the World Malaria Day website
throughout November. The World Malaria Day website is the only independent civil society portal for sharing and discussing such events. The campaign around the MIM conference will be running for the next month so material can be submitted advance of, during and after the conference.
Through the website you can:
- get updates on what is happening at MIM in terms of its programme and side events
- learn more about the outcomes of MIM and how it is relevant to your work
- upload material if you are attending MIM in person (this can include papers, excerpts, speeches, news releases, links, pdfs, advocacy materials or photographs)
- make comments on other people’s submissions.
- link up to the World Malaria Day Facebook and Twitter accounts, which will be following the conference, and help to spread the word about what is happening and why it is important .
Please go to www.worldmalariaday.org
to find out more.
Header photo by William Daniels