Health workers in Mozambique are collecting samples for genomic surveillance of malaria to monitor malaria transmission intensity and resistance to antimalarial drugs and diagnostics.
Mozambique has the fourth-highest malaria burden globally, accounting for 4.2 percent of cases and 3.8 percent of malaria-related deaths. This disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country, responsible for 10 million confirmed cases and 23,766 deaths in 2020, with children under five and pregnant women most at risk.
Parasite resistance to antimalarial drugs is a global challenge for disease control and elimination. Routine surveillance to monitor this is essential in order to ensure effective antimalarial treatment is given across different transmission strata and populations.
As part of a new research project – Implementing a quality-assured genomic data and sample collection system in Mozambique (Gen Moz) – Centro de Investigação de Saúde de Manhiça (CISM) is working with partners including the Mozambican Ministry of Health, and the country’s National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to collect and analyse data on malaria parasites. Malaria Consortium is supporting health workers to collect data samples alongside CISM and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) who are undertaking data analysis.
In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that all countries with a high disease burden of malaria develop context-specific approaches to fight this disease.
Neide Canana, Malaria Consortium Gen Moz Project Manager, commented: “The results of this study will show whether malaria parasites have mutated. If so, we will be able to recommend the use of new tests and drugs in the specific Mozambique context that are not resistant to the parasite. As the malaria diagnostics are important for control, having malaria rapid diagnostic tests (mRDTs) with good performance will help to improve case management through prompt and correct diagnosis, and contribute to significantly reduce severe cases and mortality cause by malaria in Mozambique.”
The NMCP will use the results from this study to develop new policies regarding malaria control in Mozambique.
Malaria Consortium Mozambique’s Country Technical Coordinator, Sonia Maria Enosse, added: “This research will help to inform the development of national policies, ensuring that malaria treatment given to patients across the country is effective. It is important to prioritise malaria treatment, whilst maintaining our focus on prevention and control measures, as we continue working with partners towards malaria elimination.”