Category Archives: COVID-19

Remote mentoring to ensure continuity of malaria service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire, and Cameroon

Katherine Wolf and colleagues address the need for mentoring in malaria programs across three countries when COVID-19 restricts travel and in-person work. They presented at the 69th Annual Meeting of American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and share the information below on e-mentoring.

After the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in March 2020, global health experts warned that significant disruptions to malaria programs could lead to a doubling of malaria deaths in 2020, with a major spike overwhelming fragile health systems. To ensure the continuity and safety of malaria service delivery during the pandemic and associated lockdowns, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire (CI), and Cameroon transitioned from in-person, facility-based mentorship for health care providers to phone-based e-mentorship.

Working with the 3 National Malaria Control Programs, an e-mentoring package was developed and provided to mentors including technical guidance on malaria service delivery during COVID-19, a sample call guide, and a call tracker. Mentorship calls focused on continuity of malaria service delivery and applying WHO and PMI COVID-related guidance on triaging of patients and infection control measures.

From April to June, Zimbabwe reached 134 providers in 24 of 25 health facilities that previously received in-person mentorship. CI reached 41 providers in 33 facilities, where mentors already worked with staff in-person. Cameroon reached 179 providers in 116 lower performing facilities. In Zimbabwe, e-mentorship identified malaria commodity shortfalls and over-stocking, and facilitated re-distribution. Mentors advocated successfully for provision of PPE.

E-mentorship identified a facility that had incorrectly stopped providing routine services; mentors were able to clarify COVID-related guidance from central authorities and assist in re-establishing routine services. In CI, the most frequently discussed topics were malaria commodities and case management. In Cameroon, frequent stockouts reported were better understood, and national stakeholders contacted for better solutions, including redeployment of medicines and commodities from overstocked sites to stocked-out areas.

All 3 countries demonstrated that e-mentorship successfully offers health care providers support and guidance to deliver quality malaria services during a crisis. Lessons learned can be applied in the context of natural disasters, political instability, and other potential disruptions to malaria programs.

Authors and Affiliations

Katherine Wolf1, Chantelle Allen2, Gilson Mandigo3, Leocadia Mangwanya3, Cyprien Noble1, Eric Tchinda4, Mathurin Dodo5, Arthur Konan1, Jacques Kouakou6, Lolade Oseni1
1Jhpiego/Impact Malaria, Baltimore, MD, United States, 2Jhpiego, Baltimore, MD, United States, 3ZAPIM/Jhpiego, Harare, Zimbabwe, 4Jhpiego/Impact Malaria, Kribi, Cameroon, 5Jhpiego/Impact Malaria, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 6Jhpiego/Impact Malaria, Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire

Malaria News Today 2020-10-22

The search for adjunctive therapy to aid in recovery from cerebral malaria is explored in Malaria Journal. A faster acting crystalline form of an insecticide is studied. In Nigeria the National Malaria Elimination Program advocates for equal footing with COVID-19 action. Links to full stories and abstracts are found below.

Dimethyl fumarate reduces TNF and Plasmodium falciparum induced brain endothelium activation in vitro

Neida K. Mita-Mendoza, and colleagues studied Cerebral malaria (CM) which is associated with morbidity and mortality despite the use of potent anti-malarial agents. Brain endothelial cell activation and dysfunction from oxidative and inflammatory host responses and products released by Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (IE), are likely the major contributors to the encephalopathy, seizures, and brain swelling that are associated with CM. The development of adjunctive therapy to reduce the pathological consequences of host response pathways could improve outcomes.

To accurately reflect clinically relevant parasite biology a unique panel of parasite isolates derived from patients with stringently defined CM was developed. The effect of TNF and these parasite lines on primary human brain microvascular endothelial cell (HBMVEC) activation in an in vitro co-culture model was tested. HBMVEC activation was measured by cellular release of IL6 and nuclear translocation of NF?B. The transcriptional and functional effects of dimethyl fumarate (DMF), an FDA approved drug which induces the NRF2 pathway, on host and parasite induced HBMVEC activation was characterized. In addition, the effect of DMF on parasite binding to TNF stimulated HBMVEC in a semi-static binding assay was examined.

The findings provide evidence that targeting the nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 ( NRF2) pathway in tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and parasite activated human brain microvascular endothelial cell (HBMVEC) mediates multiple protective pathways and may represent a novel adjunctive therapy to improve infection outcomes in CM.

Fast-acting insecticide polymorph could boost malaria-control efforts

Chemistry World reports on a faster-acting version of a common insecticide could boost malaria control efforts. The new crystalline form of deltamethrin is absorbed by mosquitoes 12 times faster than commercial forms and could help to limit malaria transmission despite growing rates of insecticide resistance.

Microcystals of contact insecticides like deltamethrin are crucial ingredients in indoor sprays and treated bed nets used to combat malaria-spreading mosquitoes. But many mosquito populations are developing resistance to these compounds, which is harming efforts to control the disease.

Treat Malaria as National Health Emergency, NEMP tells Federal Government

The Coordinator of National Malaria Elimination Programme (NEMP), has asked the federal government to tackle malaria as a national health emergency in the same manner COVID-19 pandemic is being handled. Against the background of increasing poverty in the country, Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunisation and Nutrition (ACOMIN) has said there is a direct linkage between malaria scourge and the level of poverty in communities.

Speaking at a meeting with the civil society group involved in anti malaria advocacy, Coordinator of NEMP, said the current level of funding of the health sector by government is unacceptably low.

Malaria News Today 2020-10-05: Concerns from Mali, Comoros, Ecuador, Southeast Asia and More

News and abstracts provide more on the surge of malaria in Mali. COVID-19 complicates malaria elimination in Southeast Asia. Peace Corps health care for volunteers in Comoros is questioned. Malaria risk in Ecuador is investigated. Risk maps are used/not used in three Sub-Saharan countries. The potential of microbiological control is considered. More information on each topic is available in the links provided.

Health workers raise alarm over surge in malaria cases, deaths in Mali

More details emerge on malaria in northern Mali. Medical workers in Mali raised an alarm over a surge in malaria cases which has seen at least 23 people killed by the disease in just the past one week. About 13,000 malaria cases were reported in the north by medical workers between September 21 and 27, representing an 88 percent increase in cases from the previous week. 59 people have died of malaria in the nation’s northern region since the beginning of the year, according to the ministry, which confirmed the deaths of the 23 people over the aforementioned September period.

Will COVID-19 hamper ASEAN’s fight to eliminate malaria?

Although progress elsewhere in the world has been slow, in the Asia-Pacific, deaths due to the mosquito-borne disease have dropped by 70% and cases have dropped by 22%. Within ASEAN, those figures—according to the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA)—are 92% and 67% respectively. The battle to eliminate malaria is continually evolving with different species of disease-carrying mosquitoes and parasites presenting new challenges. In 2008, a new strain of malaria that proved resistant to the anti-malarial drug artemisinin, nicknamed “super malaria”, emerged in Cambodia. It spread through the Greater Mekong region into Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and by 2017, it had developed resistance to another drug, piperaquine.

In response, scientists and researchers focused their resources on areas where the new strain was present and were making headway towards eliminating it. COVID-19 could threaten that progress. “We have enough evidence from the Ebola epidemic to suggest how progress on malaria elimination could be derailed and we are seeing some clear warnings now,” APLMA/APMEN commented. Historically, malaria cases have risen in countries where healthcare is interrupted due to conflict, disaster and war.

Peace Corps faces questions over death of volunteer from Inverness

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times reported that the Peace Corps, which suspended all operations for the first time in its history as the novel coronavirus raced around the globe, is facing renewed questions about the quality of its medical care — in particular, after the death of a 24-year-old volunteer from undiagnosed malaria — as it prepares to send volunteers back into the field.

An investigation by the Peace Corps inspector general documented a string of problems with Heiderman’s care. Her doctor had “limited training in tropical medicine,” the investigation found, and failed to test for malaria, which would have revealed that Heiderman had been infected by the deadliest malaria parasite. The Peace Corps was also using outdated 2006 guidelines for malaria, which did not reflect the current standard of care.

Anopheline and human drivers of malaria risk in northern coastal Ecuador

Understanding local anopheline vector species and their bionomic traits, as well as related human factors, can help combat gaps in protection. In San José de Chamanga, Esmeraldas, at the Ecuadorian Pacific coast, anopheline mosquitoes were sampled by both human landing collections (HLCs) and indoor-resting aspirations (IAs) and identified using both morphological and molecular methods.

Among 222 anopheline specimens captured, based on molecular analysis. The exophagic feeding of anopheline vectors in San Jose de Chamanga, when analysed in conjunction with human behaviour, indicates a clear gap in protection even with high LLIN coverage. The lack of indoor-resting anophelines suggests that indoor residual spraying (IRS) may have limited effect. The presence of asymptomatic infections implies the presence of a human reservoir that may maintain transmission.

How useful are malaria risk maps at the country level?

This study examined the perceptions of decision-makers in Kenya, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Declining malaria prevalence and pressure on external funding have increased the need for efficiency in malaria control in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Modelled Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate (PfPR) maps are increasingly becoming available and provide information on the epidemiological situation of countries. However, how these maps are understood or used for national malaria planning is rarely explored. In this study, the practices and perceptions of national decision-makers on the utility of malaria risk maps, showing prevalence of parasitaemia or incidence of illness, was investigated.

Three different types of maps were used to show malaria epidemiological strata: malaria prevalence using a PfPR modelled map (Kenya); malaria incidence using routine health system data (Malawi); and malaria prevalence using data from the most recent Demographic and Health Survey (DRC). In Kenya the map was used to target preventative interventions, including long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) and intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), whilst in Malawi and DRC the maps were used to target in-door residual spraying (IRS) and LLINs distributions in schools. Maps were also used for operational planning, supply quantification, financial justification and advocacy. Findings from the interviews suggested that decision-makers lacked trust in the modelled PfPR maps when based on only a few empirical data points (Malawi and DRC). Despite the availability of national level modelled PfPR maps in all three countries, they were only used in one country.

Infection of highly insecticide-resistant malaria vector Anopheles coluzzii with entomopathogenic bacteria

This study found that Chromobacterium violaceum reduces its survival, blood feeding propensity and fecundity of mosquitoes in Burkina Faso. The study was motivated by the concern that malaria eradication will not be achieved without the introduction of novel control tools. Microbiological control might be able to make a greater contribution to vector control in the future. The interactions between bacteria and mosquito make mosquito microbiota really promising from a disease control perspective.
Methods

To assess entomopathogenic effects of C. violaceum infection on mosquitoes, three different types of bioassays were performed in laboratory. These bioassays aimed to evaluate the impact of C. violaceum infection on mosquito survival, blood feeding and fecundity, respectively. During bioassays mosquitoes were infected through the well-established system of cotton ball soaked with 6% glucose containing C. violaceum.

The data showed important properties of Burkina Faso C. violaceum strains, which are highly virulent against insecticide-resistant An. coluzzii, and reduce both mosquito blood feeding and fecundity propensities. However, additional studies as the sequencing of C. violaceum genome and the potential toxins secreted will provide useful information render it a potential candidate for the biological control strategies of malaria and other disease vectors.

 

Malaria News Today 2020-10-02/03

Recent news and abstracts include mosquito control using solar disruption of of larval habitats and plants that repel the insects around homes. The challenges of malaria related anemia in pregnancy is discussed. Malaria cases increase in Mali and Mozambique, but in the latter, deaths actually decrease. Malaria parasites have ways of making people more attractive to mosquito bites. Finally covid-19 has not disrupted malaria work as much as anticipated. Read more at the links in the sections below.

Improved Mosquito Control with Solar Power Machine that Causes Ripple Effect

Kristina Panos writes that mosquito haters of the world, rejoice! A few years ago we told you about the first version of this solar-powered mosquito repellent that works by disturbing the surface of standing water. Since then, the project has received worldwide attention, and [Pranav] is back with Solar Scare Mosquito version 2.0 in time for the the 2020 Hackaday Prize.

The idea’s still the same as before: let mosquitoes lay their eggs in the standing waters of tanks and swamps, then disturb the water with vibrations so the larvae on the surface can’t breathe. As smart as this simple idea is, version 2.0 is even smarter. It has a microphone that listens to the wing-beat frequencies of mosquitoes that like to hang around places like that. Inside there’s an Arduino MKR GSM to run the ripple-generating air pump, detect water from the sensor, and gather data from the microphone.

With a network of these devices all reporting data, [Pranav] envisions an early warning system for mosquito-borne epidemics that works by alerting the locals through their phones. Solar Scare Mosquito has come a long way since 2014.

Malaria cases spike in northern Mali

Malaria cases in northern Mali have spiked, according to medical workers, claiming 23 lives in the often lawless desert region last week alone. Mali’s ministry of health said this week that 59 people have died of malaria in the north since the start of the year, almost double the number of deaths over the same period last year.

Already struggling to curb coronavirus, the poor Sahel country is also fighting a brutal jihadist insurgency active in the north and centre of the country.

A powerful attractant: Malaria parasites lure blood-sucking mosquitoes

The malaria parasite’s gametocyte-stage has been demonstrated in the field to heavily manipulate the blood-seeking behaviour of vector mosquitoes through increasing the appeal of biting an infected host.

Plasmodium parasites, the causative agents of Malaria in humans and animals, are well known for manipulating both their human and mosquito hosts as a way of maximising the probability of interactions between them, thereby increasing the chance malaria parasites are transmitted from host to host. One way in which these devious parasites have been shown to increase the probability of host interaction is during their transmissible (gametocyte) stage.

This is achieved by inducing host red blood cells to produce volatile compounds that attract malarial vector species, such as mosquitos in the Anopheles family. The increase in production of volatile compounds, such as certain aldehydes and terpenes, by host red blood cells was shown back in 2017 to be specifically induced by a gametocyte-produced molecule called (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl pyrophosphate, also known as HMBPP.

Malaria campaigns fight off Covid disruptions to deliver programmes

Almost all planned work against the disease has gone ahead this year, delivering nets, drugs and the world’s first malaria vaccine. More than 90% of anti-malaria campaigns planned this year across four continents are on track, despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.

The delivery of insecticide-treated nets and provision of antimalarial medicines in the majority of malaria-affected countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas were still going ahead, a high-level meeting organised by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria heard on Thursday.

Malaria associated with increased prevalence of anemia during pregnancy

Ken Downey Jr. and colleagues conducted a study in seven sub-Saharan African countries demonstrated an association between malaria and an increased prevalence of anemia among pregnant women, according to findings published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

“Pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa suffer a double burden of malaria and HIV infections, and these infections interact with each other to cause anemia,” Ssentongo told Healio. “If not treated, the risk of the mother and the unborn baby dying is high. Multipronged strategies to prevent and treat malaria in HIV pregnant women are critical to ensure the survival of the mothers and their unborn babies.”Paddy Ssentongo, MD, MPH, a research assistant professor at Penn State University,

Mozambique: Malaria Cases Increase, Malaria Death Toll Declines

From January to August, 442 people in Mozambique are known to have died from malaria, according to Health Minister Armindo Tiago. Speaking at the launch of a National Home Spraying Campaign, Tiago said the malaria death toll, in the first eight months of the year, was significantly lower than that recorded in the same period in 2019, when 562 people died of the disease.

But although fewer people are dying of malaria, the number of malaria cases has actually increased – from 7.86 million cases in January-August 2019 to 8.36 million in the same months this year. The number of cases rose by 6.4 per cent, but the number of deaths fell by 21.4 per cent. Thus there is the drive to persuade families to change their behaviour.

The Plants That Keep Mosquitoes Away

Protect outdoor areas from mosquitoes and bugs to enjoy evenings outside. Including the following plants in a home garden can provide homeowners with some important weapons in the war against mosquitoes.

1. Citronella Plants: You may already be familiar with citronella plants, as they are known for emitting a strong smell that mosquitoes find objectionable. This group of plants contain citronellal, the active ingredient commonly found in mosquito repellents like citronella patio candles or sprays.

2. The Mint Family: Some members of the mint family have the power to repel mosquitoes, or at least take the sting out of their bites. Check Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Basil, Lavender, Sage, and Catnip.

3. Flowers: Believe it or not, ornamental plants can actually do double duty and function as mosquito repellents. Even better, these plants love sun and are drought resistant. Marigolds, and their relative, tarragoncontain pyrethrum, an ingredient found in many insect repellents. Verbena is a lemon-scented, easy-to-grow perennial. Citrosum is also named “the mosquito plant,” and is one of the best plants in the game for repelling mosquitoes.

Malaria News Today 2020-09-22: covering three continents

Today’s stories cover three continents including Surveillance for imported malaria in Sri Lanka, community perceptions in Colombia and Annual Fluctuations in Malaria Transmission Intensity in 5 sub-Saharan countries. In addition there is an overview of microscopy standards and an Integrated Macroeconomic Epidemiological Demographic Model to aid in planning malaria elimination. We also see how COVID-19 is disturbing Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention activities in Burkina Faso. Read more by following the links in the sections below.

Will More of the Same Achieve Malaria Elimination?

Results from an Integrated Macroeconomic Epidemiological Demographic Model. Historic levels of funding have reduced the global burden of malaria in recent years. Questions remain, however, as to whether scaling up interventions, in parallel with economic growth, has made malaria elimination more likely today than previously. The consequences of “trying but failing” to eliminate malaria are also uncertain. Reduced malaria exposure decreases the acquisition of semi-immunity during childhood, a necessary phase of the immunological transition that occurs on the pathway to malaria elimination. During this transitional period, the risk of malaria resurgence increases as proportionately more individuals across all age-groups are less able to manage infections by immune response alone. We developed a robust model that integrates the effects of malaria transmission, demography, and macroeconomics in the context of Plasmodium falciparum malaria within a hyperendemic environment.

The authors analyzed the potential for existing interventions, alongside economic development, to achieve malaria elimination. Simulation results indicate that a 2% increase in future economic growth will increase the US$5.1 billion cumulative economic burden of malaria in Ghana to US$7.2 billion, although increasing regional insecticide-treated net coverage rates by 25% will lower malaria reproduction numbers by just 9%, reduce population-wide morbidity by ?0.1%, and reduce prevalence from 54% to 46% by 2034. As scaling up current malaria control tools, combined with economic growth, will be insufficient to interrupt malaria transmission in Ghana, high levels of malaria control should be maintained and investment in research and development should be increased to maintain the gains of the past decade and to minimize the risk of resurgence, as transmission drops. © The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene [open-access]

Microscopy standards to harmonise methods for malaria clinical research studies

Research Malaria Microscopy Standards (ReMMS) applicable to malaria clinical research studies have been published in Malaria Journal. The paper describes the rationale for proposed standards to prepare, stain and examine blood films for malaria parasites. The standards complement the methods manual(link is external) previously published by the World Health Organization and UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR). The standards aim to promote consistency and comparability of data from microscopy performed for malaria research and hence to strengthen evidence for improvements in malaria prevention, diagnostics and treatment.

Microscopy is important in both malaria diagnosis and research. It is used to differentiate between Plasmodium species and stages and to estimate parasite density in the blood – an important determinant of the severity of disease. It is also used to monitor the effectiveness of drugs based on the rate at which parasites recrudesce or are cleared from the blood.

While rapid diagnostic tests have replaced microscopy in some contexts, microscopy remains an essential tool to support clinical diagnosis and research. The standardisation of methods allows direct comparisons from studies conducted across different points in time and location. This facilitates individual participant data meta-analyses, recognised as the gold standard approach to generate evidence for improvements in interventions and hence patient outcomes.

Estimating Annual Fluctuations in Malaria Transmission Intensity and in the Use of Malaria Control Interventions in Five Sub-Saharan African Countries

RTS,S/AS01E malaria vaccine safety, effectiveness, and impact will be assessed in pre- and post-vaccine introduction studies, comparing the occurrence of malaria cases and adverse events in vaccinated versus unvaccinated children. Because those comparisons may be confounded by potential year-to-year fluctuations in malaria transmission intensity and malaria control intervention usage, the latter should be carefully monitored to adequately adjust the analyses. This observational cross-sectional study is assessing Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence (PfPR) and malaria control intervention usage over nine annual surveys performed at peak parasite transmission. Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence was measured by microscopy and nucleic acid amplification test (quantitative PCR) in parallel in all participants, and defined as the proportion of infected participants among participants tested. Results of surveys 1 (S1) and 2 (S2), conducted in five sub-Saharan African countries, including some participating in the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP), are reported herein; 4,208 and 4,199 children were, respectively, included in the analyses.

Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence estimated using microscopy varied between study sites in both surveys, with the lowest prevalence in Senegalese sites and the highest in Burkina Faso. In sites located in the MVIP areas (Kintampo and Kombewa), PfPR in children aged 6 months to 4 years ranged from 24.8% to 27.3%, depending on the study site and the survey. Overall, 89.5% and 86.4% of children used a bednet in S1 and S2, of whom 68.7% and 77.9% used impregnated bednets. No major difference was observed between the two surveys in terms of PfPR or use of malaria control interventions. © The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene [open-access]

Community perception of malaria in a vulnerable municipality in the Colombian Pacific

Malaria primarily affects populations living in poor socioeconomic conditions, with limited access to basic services, deteriorating environmental conditions, and barriers to accessing health services. Control programmes are designed without participation from the communities involved, ignoring local knowledge and sociopolitical and cultural dynamics surrounding their main health problems, which implies imposing decontextualized control measures that reduce coverage and the impact of interventions. The objective of this study was to determine the community perception of malaria in the municipality of Olaya Herrera in the Colombian Pacific.

A 41-question survey on knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) related to malaria, the perception of actions by the Department of Health, and access to the health services network was conducted. In spite of the knowledge about malaria and the efforts of the Department of Health to prevent it, the community actions do not seem to be consistent with this knowledge, as the number of cases of malaria is still high in the area.

Use of a Plasmodium vivax genetic barcode for genomic surveillance and parasite tracking in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was certified as a malaria-free nation in 2016; however, imported malaria cases continue to be reported. Evidence-based information on the genetic structure/diversity of the parasite populations is useful to understand the population history, assess the trends in transmission patterns, as well as to predict threatening phenotypes that may be introduced and spread in parasite populations disrupting elimination programmes. This study used a previously developed Plasmodium vivax single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) barcode to evaluate the population dynamics of P. vivax parasite isolates from Sri Lanka and to assess the ability of the SNP barcode for tracking the parasites to its origin.

A total of 51 P. vivax samples collected during 2005–2011, mainly from three provinces of the country, were genotyped for 40 previously identified P. vivax SNPs using a high-resolution melting (HRM), single-nucleotide barcode method. The proportion of multi-clone infections was significantly higher in isolates collected during an infection outbreak in year 2007. Plasmodium vivax parasite isolates collected during a disease outbreak in year 2007 were more genetically diverse compared to those collected from other years. In-silico analysis using the 40 SNP barcode is a useful tool to track the origin of an isolate of uncertain origin, especially to differentiate indigenous from imported cases. However, an extended barcode with more SNPs may be needed to distinguish highly clonal populations within the country.

Coronavirus rumours and regulations mar Burkina Faso’s malaria fight

By Sam Mednick, Thomson Reuters Foundation: MOAGA, Burkina Faso – Health worker Estelle Sanon would hold the 18-month-old and administer the SMC dose herself, but because of coronavirus she has to keep a distance from her patients. “If I am standing and watching the mother do it, it’s as if I’m not doing my work,” said Sanon, a community health volunteer assisting in a seasonal campaign to protect children in the West African country from the deadly mosquito-borne disease.

Burkina Faso is one of the 10 worst malaria-affected nations in the world, accounting for 3% of the estimated 405,000 malaria deaths globally in 2018, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). More than two-thirds of victims are children under five. Now there are fears malaria cases could rise in Burkina Faso as restrictions due to coronavirus slow down a mass treatment campaign and rumours over the virus causing parents to hide their children, according to health workers and aid officials.

“COVID-19 has the potential to worsen Burkina Faso’s malaria burden,” said Donald Brooks, head of the U.S. aid group Initiative: Eau, who has worked on several public health campaigns in the country.  “If preventative campaigns can’t be thoroughly carried out and if people are too scared to come to health centres … it could certainly increase the number of severe cases and the risk of poor outcomes.”

During peak malaria season, from July to November, community health workers deploy across Burkina Faso to treat children with seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC). This is the second year the campaign will cover the whole country with more than 50,000 volunteers going door-to-door, said Gauthier Tougri, coordinator for the country’s anti-malaria programme. Logistics were already challenging. Violence linked to jihadists and local militias has forced more than one million people to flee their homes, shuttered health clinics and made large swathes of land inaccessible. Now the coronavirus has made the task even harder, health workers said.

People in Cape Verde evolved better malaria resistance in 550 years

Yes, we are still evolving. And one of the strongest examples of recent evolution in people has been found on the Cape Verde islands in the Atlantic, where a gene variant conferring a form of malaria resistance has become more common.

Portuguese voyagers settled the uninhabited islands in 1462, bringing slaves from Africa with them. Most of the archipelago’s half a million inhabitants are descended from these peoples. Most people of West African origin have a variant in a gene called DARC that protects.

Deadly malaria and cholera outbreaks grow amongst refugees as COVID pandemic strains health systems.

Apart from the strain on health facilities during the pandemic, in some countries such as Somalia, Kenya and Sierra Leone, we are seeing that a fear of exposure to COVID-19 has prevented parents from taking their children to hospital, delaying diagnosis and treatment of malaria and increasing preventable deaths. COVID restrictions in some countries have also meant pregnant women have missed antimalarial drugs. Untreated malaria in pregnant women can increase the risk of anaemia, premature births, low birth weight and infant death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of programs designed to fight HIV, tuberculosis and malaria have been disrupted due to the pandemic and 46% of 68 countries report experiencing disruptions in the treatment and diagnosis of malaria.

Malaria News Today 2020-09-20: Controlling Mosquitoes

Abstracts and news look at mosquito control measures including screening eaves and indoor residual spraying from Malaria Journal. Mosquito-associated bacteria, fungi, and even viruses represent untapped tools. Finally one can buy and wear a face mask and help eliminate malaria. Click the links to get more information

Evaluating effectiveness of screening house eaves

a potential intervention for reducing indoor vector densities and malaria prevalence in Nyabondo, western Kenya. Mosquito-proofing of houses using wire mesh screens is gaining greater recognition as a practical intervention for reducing exposure to malaria transmitting mosquitoes. Screening potentially protects all persons sleeping inside the house against transmission of mosquito-borne diseases indoors. The study assessed the effectiveness of house eaves screening in reducing indoor vector densities and malaria prevalence in Nyabondo, western Kenya. 160 houses were selected for the study, with half of them randomly chosen for eaves screening with fibre-glass coated wire mesh (experimental group) and the other half left without screening (control group).

At all the three parasitological follow-up survey points, house screening significantly reduced the malaria prevalence by 100% (p?<?0.001), 63.6% (p?=?0.026), and 100% (p?<?0.001) in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd follow-up surveys respectively. The study demonstrated that house eave screening has potential to reduce indoor vector densities and malaria prevalence in high transmission areas.

Rapid reduction of malaria transmission following the introduction of indoor residual spraying

in previously unsprayed districts: an observational analysis of Mopti Region, Mali, in 2017. The National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) of Mali has had recent success decreasing malaria transmission using 3rd generation indoor residual spraying (IRS) products in areas with pyrethroid resistance, primarily in Ségou and Koulikoro Regions. In 2015, national survey data showed that Mopti Region had the highest under 5-year-old (u5) malaria prevalence at 54%—nearly twice the national average—despite having high access to long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC). Accordingly, in 2016 the NMCP and other stakeholders shifted IRS activities from Ségou to Mopti. A set of retrospective, eco-observational time-series analyses were performed using monthly incidence rates of rapid diagnostic test (RDT)-confirmed malaria cases reported in the District Health Information System 2 (DHIS2) from January 2016 until February 2018.

At HFs in communities of Mopti where IRS was introduced in 2017, peak incidence fell by an average of 42% (CI95 31–63%) between these years, a significantly greater decrease (p?=?0.040) almost double what was seen in the comparator HFCAs. The opposite effect was observed in Ségou Region, where peak incidence at those HFs where IRS was withdrawn after the 2016 campaign increased by an average of 106% (CI95 63–150%) from year to year, also a significant difference-in-differences compared to the comparator no-IRS HFs (p?<?0.0001).

Annual IRS campaigns continue to make dramatic contributions to the seasonal reduction of malaria transmission in communities across central Mali, where IRS campaigns were timed in advance of peak seasonal transmission and utilized a micro-encapsulated product with an active ingredient that was of a different class than the one found on the LLINs used throughout the region and to which local malaria vectors were shown to be susceptible. Strategies to help mitigate the resurgence of malaria cases that can be expected should be prioritized whenever the suspension of IRS activities in a particular region is considered.

COVID-19 Mask Raises Money for Malaria Elimination

Goodbye Malaria was founded by African entrepreneurs who truly believe African creativity is the key to solving Africa’s biggest problems. “From saving lives to saving livelihoods – the birth of the Goodbye Malaria mask.”  Mask initiative helps to raise funds support on-the-ground malaria elimination in Southern Africa. it empowers local crafters to create stylish merchandise using Goodbye Malaria’s iconic shwe shwe fabric. Goodbye Malaria co-founder Kim Lazarus said: “We have never asked the public for donations, instead, offering consumers an opportunity to support malaria elimination efforts through their purchase of our merchandise.” (see photo above)

Prospects and Pitfalls: Next-Generation Tools to Control Mosquito-Transmitted Disease

Annual Review of Microbiology reports that Mosquito-transmitted diseases, including malaria and dengue, are a major threat to human health around the globe, affecting millions each year. A diverse array of next-generation tools has been designed to eliminate mosquito populations or to replace them with mosquitoes that are less capable of transmitting key pathogens. Many of these new approaches have been built on recent advances in CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing. These initiatives have driven the development of pathogen-resistant lines, new genetics-based sexing methods, and new methods of driving desirable genetic traits into mosquito populations.

Many other emerging tools involve microorganisms, including two strategies involving Wolbachia that are achieving great success in the field. At the same time, other mosquito-associated bacteria, fungi, and even viruses represent untapped sources of new mosquitocidal or antipathogen compounds. Although there are still hurdles to be overcome, the prospect that such approaches will reduce the impact of these diseases is highly encouraging.

Malaria News Today 2020-09-17

Leading off our news update are findings from eastern Kenya about a genetic blood grouping that may help prevent malaria. While government leaders in the Asia-Pacific region committed to eliminating malaria, a report from the Gates Foundation explains how COVID-19 has set progress back and without new tools it may take more than 25 years to rid the world of the disease. In that light, Novartis is staking its finances on being able to make medicines that will be accessible and fight malaria. More details and the Gates video can be seen by clicking the links below.

How Dantu Blood Group protects against malaria

The secret of how the Dantu genetic blood variant helps to protect against malaria has been revealed for the first time by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Cambridge and the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya. The team found that red blood cells in people with the rare Dantu blood variant have a higher surface tension that prevents them from being invaded by the world’s deadliest malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. The findings were published in Nature and could be significant in the wider battle against malaria.

In 2017, researchers discovered that the rare Dantu blood variant, which is found regularly only in parts of East Africa, provides some degree of protection against severe malaria. The intention behind this new study was to explain why. Red blood cell samples were collected from 42 healthy children in Kilifi, Kenya, who had either one, two or zero copies of the Dantu gene. The Dantu variant created cells with a higher surface tension—like a drum with a tighter skin. At a certain tension, malaria parasites were no longer able to enter the cell.

Novartis ties bond sale to malaria treatment access in sustainability push

Novartis raised 1.85 billion euros on Wednesday from the sale of a bond on which interest payments will rise if the drugmaker fails to expand access to medicines and programmes to combat malaria and leprosy in a number of developing countries.

Investors are increasingly pushing companies to improve their track record on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues while sustainable investing grows in popularity, spurring an increase in sustainable debt issuance year after year. Novartis’ bond is only the third issue to date to link payments to creditors to company-wide sustainable development targets. By Yoruk Bahceli

Commitment to make Asia Pacific a malaria free region

Government officials from across Asia Pacific have come together during virtual Malaria Week 2020, to reaffirm their commitment to eliminating malaria and strengthening health systems to keep the region safe from health threats. Embracing the theme of “Inclusion. Integration. Innovation.”, officials called for increased collaboration and action to accelerate towards the goal of ending malaria in the region by 2030, at a time when major gains and regional progress are under threat due to disruptions caused by Covid-19.

It could take up to 25 years to eradicate malaria from Africa – Bill Gates

Bill Gates said: “Moving to malaria which is a very awful disease not just to the kids it kills but many kids whose brains are permanently damaged, the economic effects you have with malaria. If we don’t have new tools like vaccines or new ways of killing mosquitoes, it would probably take more than 25 years to get rid of malaria. If we get the new tools and they work, we think it can be done in under 20 years. So the malaria field is both trying to keep the number of deaths down, and we have to deal with the resistance that comes up, that the mosquitoes develop.”

Gates Foundation Report notes that, “We’ve been set back about 25 years in about 25 weeks.” Extreme poverty increased 7% because of COVID-19. In a video included in the Foundation’s report, Bill Gates explains how COVID-19 disrupts the fight against malaria.

Malaria News Today 2020-09-16

Today we learn about malaria-carrying A. stephensi invading African cities, how malaria outpaces COVID-19 in Central African Republic, and the need to examine malaria service delivery in the context of strong health services. Malaria Journal looks at ITN use in Uganda and malaria genetic variability even at the household level. Click on links to read full articles.

Spread of city-loving malaria mosquitoes could pose grave threat to Africa

An Asian malaria-carrying mosquito that has adapted to urban life has the potential to spread to dozens of cities across the African continent, a new modeling study suggests.
The mosquito species, Anopheles stephensi, poses a serious new threat for African cities, says Francesca Frentiu, a geneticist at the Queensland University of Technology who was not involved in the research. She praises the work as “an important effort, underpinned by robust methods.” A. stephensi hopped from Asia to the Arabian Peninsula between 2000 and 2010 and then made another jump to the Horn of Africa; scientists first discovered it in Djibouti in 2012, then later in Ethiopia and Sudan.

In times of COVID-19, malaria remains the number one killer of children in CAR

Since the beginning of the year, MSF teams have treated 39,631 malaria cases in Batangafo, compared to 23,642 in the same period last year. The hospital in Batangafo – a town of 31,000 people, including 22,000 displaced from elsewhere in the Central African Republic – is bustling with activity. While a particular focus has been placed on infection prevention and control measures to identify and isolate people with suspected cases of COVID-19, another deadly disease has a much heavier impact on the lives of people living here.

September is the rainy season, when malaria becomes more deadly than ever in the Central African Republic each year. It is the leading cause of death for children under five in the country. During periods when malaria transmission is high, eight out of ten paediatrics consultations in the hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Batangafo are due to complications from malaria, including anaemia and dehydration.

Assessment of health service delivery parameters in Kano and Zamfara States, Nigeria

In 2013, the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health established a Master Health Facility List (MHFL) as recommended by WHO. Since then, some health facilities (HFs) have ceased functioning and new facilities were established. We updated the MHFL and assessed service delivery parameters in the Malaria Frontline Project implementing areas in Kano and Zamfara States.

In 2016, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with the Nigeria National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP), established a 3-year intervention project, Malaria Frontline Project (MFP), with the objectives of strengthening the technical capacity of LGA-level health workers, improving malaria surveillance and facilitating evidence-based decision-making. The project was implemented in Kano and Zamfara States.

Some deficiencies in the list of facilities in DHIS2 and MHFL were uncovered making it difficult to submit and access malaria program data. Also, some facilities were still using the old version of register which did not collect all indicators required by DHIS2. In addition there were a small number of non-functional facilities. Finally the low number of facilities within the PHC category meeting the minimum HR requirement will hamper the countries effort to achieve its goal of universal health coverage. From the foregoing, the study identifies several areas to improve delivery of malaria services specifically and universal coverage in general.

Individual, community and region level predictors of insecticide-treated net use among women in Uganda: a multilevel analysis

ITN use attributable to regional and community level random effects was 39.1% and 45.2%, respectively. The study has illustrated that ITN policies and interventions in Uganda need to be sensitive to community and region level factors that affect usage. Also, strategies to enhance women’s knowledge on malaria prevention is indispensable in improving ITN use.

Genetic diversity and complexity of Plasmodium falciparum infections in the microenvironment among siblings of the same household in North-Central Nigeria

These findings showed that P. falciparum isolates exhibit remarkable degree of genetic diversity in the micro-environment of the household and are composed mainly of multiclonal infections, which is an indication of a high ongoing parasite transmission. This suggests that the micro-environment is an important area of focus for malaria control interventions and for evaluating intervention programmes.

Malaria News Today 2020-09-12/13 Weekend

Recent news over this weekend included efforts at school and peer education on bednets in Ethiopia, gender inequality effects of COVID-19 and pandemics, a reduction in severe malaria in Rwanda and increased use of home based case management, and the altering of scientific reports by political appointees. Links in these summaries take one to the full story.

Effectiveness of peer-learning assisted primary school students educating the rural community on insecticide-treated nets utilization in Jimma-zone Ethiopia

Abstract: Making insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) utilization a social norm would support the global goal of malaria eradication and Ethiopian national aim of its elimination by 2030. Jimma zone is one of the endemic settings in Ethiopia. This study aimed to report effects of malaria education, delivered by students, on community behaviours; particularly ITNs. The intervention engaged students from primary schools in participatory peer education within small groups, followed by exposing parents with malaria messages aimed at influencing perceptions and practices.

Over the intervention periods, the findings showed significant improvement in exposure to and content intensity of malaria messages delivered by students. Socio-demography, access, exposures to messages, and parental perception that students were good reminders predicted ITN utilization over the intervention periods with some changing patterns. Exposing the community to malaria education through students effectively supports behaviour change, particularly ITN usage, to be more positive towards desired malaria control practices. A school-based strategy is recommended to the national effort to combat malaria.

Melinda Gates calls on Leaders to Ensure that Women, Girls are Not Left Behind in the Global Response to COVID-19

Melinda Gates has launched a paper exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic has exploited pre-existing inequalities and drastically impacted women’s lives and livelihoods. In the paper, titled “The Pandemic’s Toll on Women and Girls,” Melinda makes the case that to recover fully from this pandemic, leaders must respond to the ways that it is affecting men and women differently. She puts forward a set of specific, practical policy recommendations that governments should consider in their pandemic response—to improve health systems for women and girls, design more inclusive economic policies, gather better data, and prioritize women’s leadership.Writing in the paper, Melinda describes how previous disease outbreaks, including AIDS and Ebola, tend to exploit existing forces of inequality, particularly around gender, systemic racism, and poverty.
Melinda concludes, “This is how we can emerge from the pandemic in all of its dimensions: by recognizing that women are not just victims of a broken world; they can be architects of a better one.

Severe malaria drops by 38% in Rwanda

In its annual Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases Report, the Ministry of Health says that the national malaria incidence reduced from 401 cases per 1,000-person in 2017-2018 fiscal year to 200 cases per 1,000-person in 2019-2020. According to the report, 4,358 cases of severe malaria (representing a 38 per cent reduction) were reported at the health facility level compared to 7,054 in 2018-2019. The decrease in malaria deaths is attributed to home based management interventions, the free treatment of malaria for Ubudehe Categories I and II and the quality of care at health facility level.

There has also been a steady increase of proportion of children under 5 and above plus adults who are seeking care from 13 per cent to 58 per cent in 2015-2016 and 2019-2020 respectively. “This indicates that interventions such home based treatment of children and adults that contributed to early diagnosis and treatment have been successful in decreasing the number of severe cases and consequently the number of malaria deaths,” the report indicates.

Political appointees sought to alter CDC scientific reports so they don’t contradict or undermine the president

Caputo (a US presidential appointee) and his communications staff have worked to delay CDC reports that contradict President Donald Trump’s rhetoric. One publication was held back for about a month, according to Politico, for recommending against the use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug touted by the White House as a potential cure for COVID-19.

The reports, written by career scientists, are known as the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, and according to Politico, are used to “inform doctors, researchers, and the general public about how Covid-19 is spreading and who is at risk.” Jennifer Kates, of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s global health work, who has relied on past reports, told Political they are “the go-to place for the public health community to get information that’s scientifically vetted.” Alexander (a presidential appointee), in this missive, said any future reports related to the coronavirus “must be read by someone outside of CDC like myself.”

Malaria News Today 2020-09-11

Today’s news and abstracts look at a variety of issues ranging from overall malaria funding funding needs to the effect of climate change on different types of mosquitoes and the diseases they carry (e.g. malaria vs dengue). We also examine the need for surveillance among nomadic groups and the use of cell phones in a saliva based malaria testing system. Please click the links below to read more on each subject.

Rwanda: Government Needs U.S.$70 Million to Fill Malaria Financing Gap

By Nasra Bishumba: The Government needs $73 million to bridge the funding in the funds needed to fight malaria between 2020 and 2024, The New Times can reveal. The Rwanda National Strategic Plan 2020-2024 to fight malaria drawn up in June this year indicates that although the implementation requires Rwf295bn ($280 million), the government already has funding commitment to the tune of $206.8m (equivalent to 74 per cent).

According to the strategic plan, a copy of which The New Times has seen, this leaves a gap of $73m which it hopes to mobilize from different sources. With these funds, the government is seeking to protect at least 85 per cent of the population with preventive interventions and to work towards promptly testing and treating suspected malaria cases by 2024. To achieve this, the biggest chunk of the funds will be invested in malaria prevention to a tune of $186m, an equivalent of 66 per cent of the entire budget.

Climate Change May Shift Risks of Mosquito-borne Diseases

By Asher Jones: More dengue, less malaria. That may be the future in parts of Africa on a warming planet, depending on where you live. New research says it’s all about which mosquitoes will thrive. And the methods to control one don’t necessarily work on the other.

The mosquito that spreads malaria prefers relatively cool temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). The dengue mosquito does best at 29 degrees Celsius (84.2 degrees Fahrenheit). Because of this difference in optimal temperatures, “We would actually predict that climate change might have opposing effects [on disease transmission],” said Erin Mordecai, assistant professor of biology at Stanford University and lead author on the study. “Climate change might make it less suitable for malaria to be transmitted but more suitable for dengue to be transmitted.”

Africa’s Nomadic Pastoralists and Their Animals Are an Invisible Frontier in Pandemic Surveillance

@ASTMH The effects of COVID-19 have gone undocumented in nomadic pastoralist communities across Africa, which are largely invisible to health surveillance systems despite the fact that they are of key significance in the setting of emerging infectious disease. We expose these landscapes as a “blind spot” in global health surveillance, elaborate on the ways in which current health surveillance infrastructure is ill-equipped to capture pastoralist populations and the animals with which they coexist, and highlight the consequential risks of inadequate surveillance among pastoralists and their livestock to global health. As a platform for further dialogue, we present concrete solutions to address this gap.

Mobile phone-based saliva test wins NIH prize

Cornell researchers’ concept for a quick, non-invasive, mobile phone-based system to detect infectious diseases, inflammation and nutritional deficiencies in saliva was awarded a $100,000 National Institutes of Health Technology Accelerator Challenge prize. The NIH’s prize challenge encourages the development of new, non-invasive diagnostic technologies important for global health. For the group’s saliva-based test, a small 3D-printed adapter is clipped to a mobile phone and synced with a mobile app. The app uses the phone’s camera to image test strips to detect malaria, iron deficiency and inflammation, with results in under 15 minutes.

The proposal builds on the FeverPhone and NutriPhone platforms developed by the team at Cornell’s Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Global Health and Technology (INSiGHT). The technologies, funded by the NIH and the National Science Foundation, evaluate infections and nutritional status using blood. According to Mehta, technologies using salivary biomarkers could revolutionize how conditions such as malaria and iron deficiency are identified and addressed, especially in settings where access to primary health care and traditional, laboratory-based tests is limited.

Monsoon infections: How to tell the difference between dengue and malaria? Watch out for these symptoms

While both diseases are mosquito-borne and cause similar symptoms such as fever, joint/muscle pain, headaches, and fatigue, some differences between their symptoms can help you identify the specific infections. Unique symptoms of Malaria: Stomach problems such as vomiting, Diarrhoea, Dry cough, Shivering, Spleen enlargement Unique symptoms of Dengue: Pain behind the eyes, Swollen glands, Rashes