Malaria News Today 2020-09-30: Diagnostics, Mosquito Genes and Neutrophils

Mosquito populations vary across nations and can be spurred by change in land use and deforestation as seen in Madagascar. Urine and saliva have potential in diagnostics but have lower sensitivity than blood tests. Not all insects have similar genes, and mosquitoes evolved a different gene to handle body segmentation. The DHS Program has released recent Malaria Indicator Surveys for Ghana and Uganda, but indicators are below targets. The emerging roles for neutrophils in malaria will be discussed at a webinar. Finally cost-effectiveness issues around RDTs is noted. More information can be obtained via the hyperlinks.

Variation in Anopheles distribution and predictors of malaria infection risk across regions of Madagascar

Deforestation and land use change is widespread in Madagascar, altering local ecosystems and creating opportunities for disease vectors, such as the Anopheles mosquito, to proliferate and more easily reach vulnerable, rural populations. Knowledge of risk factors associated with malaria infections is growing globally, but these associations remain understudied across Madagascar’s diverse ecosystems experiencing rapid environmental change. This study aims to uncover socioeconomic, demographic, and ecological risk factors for malaria infection across regions through analysis of a large, cross-sectional dataset.

The presence of aquatic agriculture (both within and surrounding communities) is the strongest predictive factor of habitats containing Anopheles larvae across all regions. Ecological and socioeconomic risk factors for malaria infection vary dramatically across study regions and range in their complexity. Risk factors for malaria transmission differ dramatically across regions of Madagascar. These results may help stratifying current malaria control efforts in Madagascar beyond the scope of existing interventions.

Evaluating the potential of using urine and saliva specimens for malaria diagnosis in suspected patients in Ghana

This study aimed at detecting PfHRP2 and pLDH malaria antigens in urine and salivary specimens of suspected malaria patients using RDT kits, and identifying factors influencing the detection of these antigens. Malaria rapid test kit (SD Bioline RDT kit) was used to detect malaria antigens, PfHRP2 and pLDH, in blood, urine and saliva samples received from patients suspected of malaria. Subsequently, malaria parasitaemia was determined.

A total of 706 suspected malaria patients provided all three specimens. Prevalence of malaria by microscopy and RDT was 44.2% and 53.9%, respectively. Compared to blood, the sensitivities of urine and saliva were 35.2% and 57.0% respectively. Haemoglobin concentration?<?9.9 g/dL, body temperature?>?38.7 °C and occult blood influenced the detection of malaria antigens in both urine and saliva. Furthermore, the antigens were not detected in urine and saliva when parasitaemia was?<?60,000 parasites/µL and?<?40,000 parasites/µL, respectively.

Saliva, with or without blood contamination, was found to be more efficient that urine samples. Therefore these non-blood specimens have the potential to be used as non-invasive samples for malaria diagnosis. However, this approach is useful in severe to moderate anaemia, hyperthermia, parasitaemia?>?60,000 parasites/µL and samples contaminated with blood.

Mosquitos lost an essential gene for body segmentation with no ill effects

University of Maryland entomologists discovered that a gene critical for survival in other insects is missing in mosquitoes—the gene responsible for properly arranging the insects’ segmented bodies. The researchers also found that a related gene evolved to take over the missing gene’s job. Although laboratory studies have shown that similar genes can be engineered to substitute for one another, this is the first time that scientists identified a gene that naturally evolved to perform the same critical function as a related gene long after the two genes diverged down different evolutionary paths.

The work emphasizes the importance of caution in genetic studies that use model animals to make conclusions across different species. It also points to a new potential avenue for research into highly targeted mosquito control strategies. The research study was published in the September 30, 2020, issue of the journal Communications Biology. “Every single arthropod has a segmented body plan. And you would think it develops the same way in all of them. But what we found is that it doesn’t,” said Alys Jarvela. “That means different genes probably regulate male fertility in mosquitoes, and they might be unique to the mosquito, which could potentially provide a powerful avenue for controlling mosquitoes without harming other insects such as butterflies and bees,” Jarvela said.

Two New Malaria Indicator Surveys Available

Ghana 2019 MIS/DHS Infographic. Malaria prevalence going down from 27% in 2014 to 14% in 2019. Still below target in terms of ITN coverage of and in households.

Uganda 2018-19 MIS/DHS Infographic.  Wide regional variation in malaria prevalence from 1-5% in the southwest to 34% in the northeast. ITN use by children and pregnant women below 2/3rds, while only 2/5 pregnant women got 3 doses of IPT.

Emerging Roles for Neutrophils in Malaria

Aubrey Cunnington and an interdisciplinary translational research group studying host-pathogen interactions in severe infections, focussing on malaria in particular. See for example,  “A More Granular View of Neutrophils in Malaria

Neutrophils are abundant innate immune cells with crucial roles in immunity and vascular inflammation. Recent evidence indicates that neutrophils have a dual role in malaria, contributing to both pathogenesis and control of Plasmodium. We discuss emerging mechanisms behind these opposing functions and identify key outstanding questions.

Cost-effectiveness analysis of malaria rapid diagnostic test in the elimination setting

As more and more countries approaching the goal of malaria elimination, malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) was recomended to be a diagnostic strategy to achieve and maintain the statute of malaria free, as it’s less requirements on equipment and expertise than microscopic examination. But there are very few economic evaluations to confirm whether RDT was cost-effective in the setting of malaria elimination. This research aimed to offer evidence for helping decision making on malaria diagnosis strategy.

The results showed that RDT strategy was the most effective (245 cases) but also the most costly (United States Dollar [USD] 4.47 million) compared to using microscopy alone (238 cases, USD 3.63 million), and RDT followed by microscopy (221 cases, USD 2.75 million). There was no strategy dominated. One-way sensitivity analysis reflected that the result was sensitive to the change in labor cost and two-way sensitivity analysis indicated that the result was not sensitive to the proportion of falciparum malaria. The result of Monte Carlo simulation showed that RDT strategy had higher effects and higher cost than other strategies with a high probability. Compared to microscopy and RDT followed by microscopy, RDT strategy had higher effects and higher cost in the setting of malaria elimination.

Malaria News Today 2020-09-28/29: media involvement, NGOs, monitoring and research

A variety of malaria and related issues have arisen over the past two days. A media coalition for malaria elimination formed in Ghana. A Nigerian NGO stresses the importance of addressing malaria on Nigeria’s 60th Independence Day (October 1). An innovative technology foundation is supporting various malaria and NTD treatment and diagnostic research efforts. Click on links below to read the details.

Media Coalition for malaria control and elimination launched

A Media Coalition comprising of selected journalists and editors, has been launched in Ghana under the umbrella of the “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” campaign to eliminate malaria by 2030. The Coalition, which aimed to enhance the quality and quantity of malaria coverage, and support broader advocacy efforts, was launched at a workshop in Accra organized by the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), in collaboration with the African Media and Malaria Research Network and Speak Up Africa, an advocacy and communication Organisation based in Senegal.

The workshop brought together media personnel from across the regions, who nominated their Regional Executives, with two National Co-Chairpersons coming from Greater Accra. The Members of the Coalition, made a firm declaration of their commitment towards the elimination of malaria in Ghana by the year 2030, by championing the fight, taking responsibility for their roles through proactive, regular, accurate, and high-quality media output of news on malaria.

Chinwe Chibuike Foundation Set To Flag-off Full Scale Malaria Eradication Program On Independence Day

A Nigeria indigenous and international non-governmental organization, envisioned to create a conducive environment towards the accessibility of healthcare facilities and improved educational opportunities, has joined the fight against the bizzare challenges of Malaria. The renowned Nigeria-USA humanitarian organization, Chinwe Chibuike Foundation is collaborating with other organizations to flagoff a full scale malaria eradication exercise tagged “Nigeria at 60 Malaria Eradication Project”, on the 1st of October 2020.

According to the founder and President of Chinwe Chibuike Foundation, Ms Gloria Chibuike, during an interview session with Pulse TV few days ago, she noted the forthcoming Nigeria At 60 Malaria Eradication Program will be different and of more impact, especially with the full scale approach and introduction a new Malaria repellant Band.

While emphasizing on the extensive features of the project, Ms Gloria described Malaria as one of the biggest problems in Africa at the moment, considering the increased number of recorded deaths and infection. She narrated that the discovery of the new malaria repellent band was timely and off-course very efficient, especially with testimonies from few persons who have already tried the brand.

Drugs and Diagnostics: Malaria and NTDs

The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund announced today a total of 1.37 billion yen (US$13 million*) to invest in seven partnerships to develop new lifesaving drugs and diagnostics for malaria, Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, and soil-transmitted helminths (STH). This includes three newly funded projects and four that will receive continued funding. The RBM Partnership is planning on how to monitor and provide technical support for ITN programs. Click the links within each section to read details.

As of September 29, GHIT’s portfolio includes 50 ongoing projects: 26 discovery projects, 16 preclinical projects and eight clinical trials (Appendix 3). The total amount of investments since 2013 is 22.3 billion yen (US$211 million).

Support the Improvement of Operational Efficiency of ITN Campaigns

The Alliance for Malaria Prevention (AMP) is a workstream within the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. With malaria indicators stagnating and intense pressure to improve access and use of effective ITNs, WHO has renewed focus on stratifying vector control strategies in countries. Along with the introduction of new, more expensive ITNs, countries are now challenged to determine where they should deploy different ITN types to manage insecticide resistance within limited funding envelopes, as well as to identify more efficient ways to implement mass ITN distribution.

Countries that have accessed AMP technical assistance have significantly improved their capacity to modify and update strategies and tools to increase ITN access, use and accountability. They have also continued to identify further gaps and look for effective ways to address them. Now AMP planning to support update and finalization of ITN tracking tool, aligned with priorities across major partners (GF, PMI, RBM).

 

Malaria News Today 2020-09-26: supporting and strengthening malaria programs

Today’s selection of abstracts and news looks at the role of the media in supporting malaria programs, mass treatment to prevent Imported malaria, problems managing malaria in pregnancy services, malaria research in Mali and health systems strengthening to support malaria control in Guinea. Follow links to read mor details.

GHS calls for media support to eradicate malaria

The media has a role in supporting malaria programs

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has called on journalists to support the Service to deliver integrated health package through accurate messages towards malaria eradication in the country.“Also, we need your support to set malaria as a national development agenda. This will drive advocacy for political will, increase partnership, availability and accessibility of effective tool for prevention, diagnoses and treatment of malaria in all the vulnerable populations.”

Dr Anthony Adofo Ofosu, the Deputy Director General, GHS, said this at the launch of “Zero malaria starts with me” campaign in Accra.  The launch coincided with a sensitisation programme by the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMRN), the National Malaria Control Programme and the Speak Up African Organisation. The Deputy Director General said “It is the belief of the GHS that with effective engagement…we will be able to eradicate malaria from the country in the near future.”

Mass radical treatment of a group of foreign workers to mitigate the risk of re-establishment of malaria in Sri Lanka

Following malaria elimination, Sri Lanka was free from indigenous transmission for six consecutive years, until the first introduced case was reported in December 2018. The source of transmission (index case) was a member of a group of 32 migrant workers from India and the location of transmission was their residence reporting a high prevalence of the primary vector for malaria. Despite extensive vector control the situation was highly susceptible to onward transmission if another of the group developed malaria. Therefore, Mass Radical Treatment (MRT) of the group of workers for Plasmodium vivax malaria was undertaken to mitigate this risk.

The workers were screened for malaria by microscopy and RDT, their haemoglobin level assessed, and tested for Glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) using the Care Start RDT and Brewers test prior to treatment with chloroquine (CQ) 25 mg/kg body weight (over three days) and primaquine (PQ, based on G6PD test results) (0.25 mg/kg/day bodyweight for 14 days) following informed consent. All were monitored for adverse events. None of the foreign workers were parasitaemic at baseline screening.

Mass treatment may be an option in prevention of reintroduction settings for groups of migrants who are likely to be carrying latent malaria infections, and resident in areas of high receptivity. However, in the case of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale, a more reliable and affordable point-of-care test for G6PD activity would be required. Most countries which are eliminating malaria now are in the tropical zone and face considerable and similar risks of malaria re-introduction due to massive labour migration between them and neighbouring countries. Regional elimination of malaria should be the focus of global strategy if malaria elimination from countries is to be worthwhile and sustainable.

Managing intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy challenges: an ethnographic study of two Ghanaian administrative regions

Malaria in pregnancy (MiP) is an important public health problem across sub-Saharan Africa. The package of measures for its control in Ghana in the last 20 years include regular use of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs), directly-observed administration (DOT) of intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP) and prompt and effective case management of MiP. Unfortunately, Ghana like other sub-Saharan African countries did not achieve the reset Abuja targets of 100% of pregnant women having access to IPTp and 100% using LLINs by 2015.

This ethnographic study explored how healthcare managers dealt with existing MiP policy implementation challenges and the consequences on IPTp-SP uptake and access to maternal healthcare. Healthcare managers addressed frequent stock-outs of malaria programme drugs and supplies from the National Malaria Control Programme and delayed reimbursement from the NHIS, by instituting co-payment, rationing and prescribing drugs for women to buy from private pharmacies.

Some clients did not receive the recommended 5?+?doses of SP, others did not obtain LLINs early and some did not obtain treatment for MiP. Healthcare providers felt frustrated whenever they could not provide comprehensive care to women who could not afford comprehensive maternal and MiP care. For Ghana to achieve her goal of controlling MiP, the Ministry of Health and other supporting institutions need to ensure prompt reimbursement of funds, regular supply of programme drugs and medical supplies to public, faith-based and private health facilities.

Malaria prevention program continuation in Guinea

CRS Guinea is the Principal Recipient (PR) in Malaria prevention program continuation grant by the Global Fund for the new cycle of funding (NFM) (January 2021-December 2023). Community health is a top priority of the Ministry of Health as a primary strategy to increase accessibility and coverage to basic health services. Under the new Global Fund grant, the community health component will be expanded to six districts, in addition to two pilot districts, Kindia and Telimele. CRS will also support coordination with other donors, including World Bank, UNICEF, Gavi, European Union and the Guinea Ministry of Health to implement the national community health strategy in 12 health districts supported by Global Fund malaria project.

The United States and Mali Celebrate 60 Years of Friendship and Partnership

Thirty years ago, our National Institutes of Health created a Malaria Research and Training Center, which is now a component of the International Center for Excellence in Research in Mali. Until today, it serves as a reference center with over 700 Malian scientists and support staff who work on malaria and other infectious diseases. Together, we have dropped malaria prevalence rates in Mali by an astounding 60 percent since 2012.

 

Malaria News Today 2020-09-25: Testing, Surveillance, Elimination

Differentiating malaria parasite species is something science can do today, but in the 1800s the debate was over what actually caused the disease.  This ability to test and diagnose gives us an important surveillance tool, the 3Ts. News from Ghana is that malaria deaths are reducing, and Guatemala is focusing on elimination. Read more at the links in each section.

Wyss Researchers Develop Malaria Diagnostic Procedure Capable of Differentiating Malaria Species

Researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute have developed a new malaria diagnostic test that efficiently detects and can distinguish between species of malaria parasites,
the new procedure significantly improves upon current diagnostic methods, which fail to differentiate between types of malaria. Procedures that only identify Plasmodium falciparum can lead to severe consequences for patients, since other types of malaria are resilient to therapies designed to treat Plasmodium falciparum because they enter a dormant stage in the human liver.

These genes help explain how malaria parasites survive treatment with common drug.

The essential malaria drug artemisinin acts like a “ticking time bomb” in parasite cells—but in the half a century since the drug was introduced, malaria-causing parasites have slowly grown less and less susceptible to the treatment, threatening attempts at global control over the disease.

In a paper published September 23 in Nature Communications, Whitehead Institute Member Sebastian Lourido and colleagues use genome screening techniques in the related parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) to identify genes that affect the parasites’ susceptibility to artemisinin. Two genes stood out in the screen: one that makes the drug more lethal, and another that helps the parasite survive the treatment…

Test, Treat, and Track: Strengthening Malaria Response Capabilities in Sierra Leone

A public-private partnership in Sierra Leone aimed to build capacity for testing, treating, and tracking malaria. The post notes the “public-private partnership in Sierra Leone was a collaboration between USAID’s Human Resources for Health in 2030 (HRH2030) program; the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the Pharmacy Consultancy of Sierra Leone; and the Sierra Leone National Malaria Control Program”.

NMCP partnered with pharmacies to strengthen their malaria case management capabilities. Anitta and her colleague Brenda Stafford, a trained pharmacist and Procurement and Supply Management officer, led the initiative, going pharmacy-to-pharmacy to train staff on the NMCP’s “Three T” approach: Test, Treat, and Track.

To address the first T, private pharmacies were given free malaria rapid diagnostic tests. According to 2016 data, only half of children under-five with fever received appropriate malaria testing. For the second T, the pharmacists were trained on malaria prevention, treating patients with uncomplicated malaria, and referring patients with severe malaria to health facilities. As for the last T, tracking malaria test results is key in forecasting the spread of disease. NMCP provided pharmacies with two forms that track results: a registry form to track patient information and a summary form which aggregates that into monthly data reports

Miasma War over cause of malaria was heated

Nicole Layton of the Chowan Herald reported that in the 1850s, two North Carolina doctors had a heated and protracted battle over the cause of malaria in the state. This Miasma War is so famous. So what the heck is Miasma? Those fans of Charles Dickens can tell you that at one point miasmas were thought to be the main vector for disease transmission.

During Dickens’ time in London the air was very foul and rather visible because of wood and coal and it smelled bad due to the lack of indoor plumbing. It was thought that this foul air was the cause of disease. Because our part of North Carolina had a lot of rotting vegetation and swamps there was certainly foul air about and very noticeable illness. So the general thought was that malaria was a result of this bad air.

Escuintla, Guatemala: Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)

CHAI’s Guatemala Malaria Team is supporting the Ministry of Health’s National Malaria Program by providing technical assistance and supporting programmatic planning, execution, monitoring and evaluation of effective interventions in the department of Escuintla in southern Guatemala. Over the past five years, CHAI has engaged in the country and helped them make meaningful steps towards orienting their national strategic plans and systems towards the historical goal of malaria elimination.

CHAI’s Guatemala team works in close coordination with the Ministry of Health and other international partners to design, plan, execute and evaluate the impact of the country´s elimination-focused interventions in Escuintla.

Ghana: Malaria deaths in children under five reduce

Ghana has recorded a reduction in malaria deaths in children under five by 83 per cent over the last eight years, the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) has said. The rate of malaria-related deaths reduced from 0.6 per cent in 2012 to 0.1 per cent in 2019, showing significant inroads in malaria-related deaths among children. Malaria-related deaths of all ages also reduced by 2,799 in 2012 to 333 by end of 2019, representing an 88 per cent reduction.

Malaria News Today 2020-09-23/24

Today the issue of water is important for malaria mosquito propagation, both in irrigation and flooding. Artificial skin enables testing of mosquito biting. Fake medicines for malaria and other conditions threaten Africa’s health. Archived RDTs can aid surveillance. Finally there is concern for co-infection with both malaria and dengue leading to severe disease. Follow links below to read details.

Impact of sugarcane irrigation on malaria vector Anopheles mosquito fauna, abundance and seasonality in Arjo-Didessa, Ethiopia

Despite extensive irrigation development in Ethiopia, limited studies assessed the impact of irrigation on malaria vector mosquito composition, abundance and seasonality. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of sugarcane irrigation on species composition, abundance and seasonality of malaria vectors. Adult Anopheles mosquitoes were collected using CDC light traps from three irrigated and three non-irrigated clusters in and around Arjo-Didessa sugarcane irrigation scheme in southwestern Ethiopia.

Overall, 2108 female Anopheles mosquitoes comprising of six species were collected. The ongoing sugarcane irrigation activities in Arjo-Didessa created conditions suitable for malaria transmitting Anopheles species diversity and abundance. This could drive malaria transmission in Arjo-Didessa and its environs in both dry and wet seasons. Currently practiced malaria vector interventions need to be strengthened by including larval source management to reduce vector abundance in the irrigated areas.

Prevalence of and risk factors for severe malaria caused by Plasmodium and dengue virus co-infection

A systematic review and meta-analysis examined co-infection with both Plasmodium and dengue virus (DENV) infectious species could have serious and fatal outcomes if left undiagnosed and without timely treatment. The present study aimed to determine the pooled prevalence estimate of severe malaria among patients with co-infection, the risk of severe diseases due to co-infection, and to describe the complications of severe malaria and severe dengue among patients with co-infection. Relevant studies published between databases between 12 September 1970 and 22 May 2020 were identified and retrieved.

The present study found that there was a high prevalence of severe malaria among patients with Plasmodium and DENV co-infection. Physicians in endemic areas where these two diseases overlap should recognize that patients with this co-infection can develop either severe malaria or severe dengue with bleeding complications, but a greater risk of developing severe dengue than severe malaria was noted in patients with this co-infection.

South Sudan: Flooding deepens a humanitarian crisis in Pibor area

Today, however, the Pibor River has swelled to make parts of the town inaccessible and is threatening the clinic. Many neighborhoods cannot be reached by foot, and a local ferry is too expensive for many who live in the area. A mobile MSF team is providing medical care in hard-to-reach areas. “Our focus is now on malaria, measles and flooding,” said Josh Rosenstein, MSF deputy head of mission. “Today we are reaching out to the community through our daily mobile clinics, treating the most severe illnesses. We’re also implementing our flood contingency plan, which includes building additional flood defenses around the clinic to ensure we can continue to provide medical services, as the water level is rising at an alarming speed.”

Stratifying malaria receptivity in Bangladesh using archived rapid diagnostic tests

Surveillance of low-density infections and of exposure to vectors is crucial to understand where malaria elimination might be feasible, and where the risk of outbreaks is high. Archived rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), used by national malaria control and elimination programs for clinical diagnosis, present a valuable, yet rarely used resource for in-depth studies on malaria epidemiology. 1022 RDTs from two sub-Districts in Bangladesh (Alikadam and Kamalganj) were screened by qPCR for low-density Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections, and by ELISA for Anopheles salivary gland antibodies as a marker for exposure to vectors.

Concordance between RDT and qPCR was moderate. qPCR detected 31/1022 infections compared to 36/1022 diagnosed by RDT. Exposure to Anopheles was significantly higher in Kamalganj despite low transmission, which could be explained by low bed net use. Archived RDTs present a valuable source of antibodies for serological studies on exposure to vectors. In contrast, the benefit of screening archived RDTs to obtain a better estimate of clinical case numbers is moderate. Kamalganj could be prone to outbreaks.

New tool mimics human skin to allow detailed study of mosquito biting

eLife: Researchers develop a human skin mimic to study mosquito biting in high resolution without using humans as ‘bait.’ The tool, which uses an artificial blood meal and a surface that mimics human skin, will provide detailed understanding of blood feeding without using human subjects as bait. It can also fit conveniently into a backpack, allowing the study of mosquitoes in laboratory and natural environments.

Blood feeding is essential for mosquitoes to reproduce, but it is during blood feeds on human hosts that they pass on pathogens such as malaria. It consists of a bite ‘substrate’ – a transparent, temperature-controlled surface that mimics body temperature to attract mosquitoes. An artificial meal is applied on top of this and covered with a commonly used membrane that mosquitoes can pierce. The meal resembles blood, allowing mosquitoes to engorge and increase their weight by two to threefold. This bite substrate is then placed in a transparent cage, and an external camera records the mosquitoes’ behaviour. The team tested biteOscope with four medically important species of mosquito.

Counterfeiting of Fake Drugs in Africa: current situation, causes and countermeasures

The more desirable a product is the higher the tendency to replicate it and meet that parcel of consumers that want to join the trend but cannot pay the price. Profit is one of the many reasons that make counterfeit an attractive business for many.  Africa, unfortunately but not surprisingly, is one of the most affected continents, comprehensible since its markets have become a huge target for second generation goods, with a major focus on pharmaceutical drugs.

The World Health Organization (hereinafter, WHO) stated that 42% of all fake medicine reported to them between the years of 2013 and 2017 was linked to the African continent and we expect that these numbers fall short of reality. Africa is seriously affected by it and one clear example is the anti-malarial medication. Anti-malarials and antibiotics are amongst the most commonly reported as fake or substandard medical products.

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 2020-09-21: Vectors, Cities and Chimpanzees

First we look at how disease can influence urban planning. We have four news stories focus on field activities for vector control from Hyderabad, India, Borno State, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and CHAD. Finally there is an ancestry article of sorts examining plasmodia in chimpanzees and humans. Click on the links to read full details.

Can Covid-19 inspire a new way of planning African cities?

Health crises are not new in Africa. The continent has grappled with infectious diseases on all levels, from local (such as malaria) to regional (Ebola) to global (Covid-19). The region has often carried a disproportionately high burden of global infectious outbreaks.
How cities are planned is critical for managing infectious diseases. Historically, many urban planning innovations emerged in response to health crises. The global cholera epidemic in the 1800s led to improved urban sanitation systems. Respiratory infections in overcrowded slums in Europe inspired modern housing regulations during the industrial era.

Urban planning in Africa during colonisation followed a similar pattern. In Anglophone Africa, cholera and bubonic plague outbreaks in Nairobi (Kenya) and Lagos (Nigeria) led to new urban planning strategies. These included slum clearance and urban infrastructure upgrades. Urban planning in French colonial Africa similarly focused on health and hygiene issues, but also safety and security.

Unfortunately regional experiences with cholera, malaria and even Ebola in African cities provide little evidence that they have triggered a new urban planning ethic that prioritises infectious outbreaks. Our recent research paper discusses three areas that can transform urban planning in the continent to prepare for future infectious outbreaks, using lessons from Covid-19.

The Coronavirus and other viruses like Ebola have always been ‘out there’ in nature.

But it’s only when we disrupt the natural habitats of the wild animals. Deadly viruses stay beneath the surface and need just one moment of triggering to emerge in the atmosphere and take the world by storm – historian Dr Mark Honigsbaum. The point is we cannot prevent all spillover events or predict precisely when or where the next one will happen. What we can do — and should do often — is invest in local laboratories and diagnostic services so that we can spot unusual outbreaks early and close them down quickly

We should note that Plasmidium Knowlesi is an example of a form of malaria from monkeys that arose because of urban expansion on forest habitats.

Hyderabad: People sensitised on mosquito breeding

As part of a novel initiative, every Sunday 10 am, 10 minute programme, the entomology wing of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation conducted awareness drive on mosquito breeding grounds at various places on Sunday. They explained the importance of cleanliness and the ways the mosquito breeding takes place in stagnated water. Speaking on the occasion, Banjara Hills Corporator Gadwal Vijayalaxmi called upon everyone not to allow accumulation of water in containers, utensils and surroundings.

Borno, WHO Administer Malaria Prevention Drug on 2.1m Children

WHO National Coordinator Malaria Emergencies in Nigeria, Dr. Iniabasi Nglas gave the figure during a four round Malaria Chemoprevention Campaigns (MPCs aka SMC) in 25 of the 27 local government areas of Borno State. During the advocacy, Nglas said the IDP camps “are given special attention for there is high threat of malaria infection due to the environment. Record has shown that the treatment has reduced malaria morbidity in the state.” She revealed that during the first cycle, 1.9 million children were targeted but due to high reception 2.1 million children were administered with the drug.

Rotary Against Malaria Distributes Nets in PNG

ROTARY Against Malaria has finally completed its distribution of bed net mosquito nets throughout the Eastern Highlands Province (EHP) after three months. Team leader of Rotary Against Malaria in the province, Helmut Magino, during a ceremony in Goroka, acknowledged his working staff, the Eastern Highlands Provincial Health Authority, district health officers, logistic company Mapai Transport, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL)
and the communities in Papua New Guinea.

“Without these partners, our work in distributing mosquito nets wouldn’t have been successful,” Mr Magino said. “Mapai Transport assisted with vehicles to travel to the remote parts in Okapa, Henganofi and Lufa. “SIL assisted with distribution via airplane to remote parts which are not connected by road like in Obura-Wonenara district.” The volunteer-run organisation funded by Global Fund, a US-based organisation, distributed 145,900 mosquito nets in the province. “We distributed around 45,000 nets to Okapa and Lufa, 35,000 to Obura-Wonenara and 66,900 to rural areas in Goroka district. “We will visit EHP again next year to distribute nets …”

Donating Emergency IRS Supplies to CHAD

Last week, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a Hercules military transport aircraft took off from an Israeli military base in the south, filled to capacity with items donated by Israeli Flying Aid IFA and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) — 2,000 six-person tents, personal protection equipment (PPE) for medical teams, backpack sprayers to eradicate malaria-carrying mosquitos, and more.

Why humans can run marathons and apes cannot (implication for plasmodium species)

Chimpanzees share more than 99 percent of their genes with modern humans, but the CMAH gene is one of the areas of difference. Two to three million years ago, gorillas, chimpanzees, and other primates were dying from a type of malaria called Plasmodium reichenowi (Science, 2011;331:540-542). At that time, all primates had a surface protein called Neu5Gc on their cells that was made from Neu5Ac. Then along came a primate with a gene that had lost its ability to make Neu5Gc from Neu5Ac, so it had only Neu5Ac (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, Sept 6, 2005;102(36):12819-12824).

That pre-human did not die from malaria like other primates, his and her children lived and proliferated, and today their descendants (all humans) have a gene that makes Neu5Ac instead of Neu5Gc. As often happens in nature, the malaria parasite then modified its genetic makeup into a variant called Plasmodium falciparum which can infect humans, but not chimpanzees, so today humans can be infected only with Plasmodium falciparum and chimpanzees can be infected only with Plasmodium reichenowi. This same genetic mutation gave homo sapiens greater endurance so they were able to run long distances while the apes could not, which gave humans an advantage in hunting for food (J Hum Evol, 2014;66:64-82).

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 2020-09-18/19

Several reports and studies aim to help understand the malaria parasite and the human behavior surrounding its control. Cultural perceptions in Benin influence treatment seeking. Tracking cases in India aid in elimination efforts. The contrasts between in vivo and in vitro studies are examined. The factors associated with anemia among children and women in Ghana are traced to malaria and other factors. Finally both human and mosquito immunity are discussed. Click the links in each section to read details.

Demonstration of indigenous malaria elimination through Track-Test-Treat-Track (T4) strategy in a Malaria Elimination Demonstration Project in Mandla, Madhya Pradesh

Using the current intervention and prevention tools along with optimum utilization of human resources,This project has revealed about 91% reduction of indigenous cases of malaria during the period from June 2017 to May 2020, through case management and vector control strategies. A total 357,143 febrile cases were screened, out of which 0.19% were found positive.

The reduction was similar in the three high prevalence blocks of the district. These results reveal that malaria elimination is achievable in India within a stipulated time frame. The reduction of malaria at the community level was further validated when zero malaria cases were diagnosed during hospital and community-based studies in Mandla. Prompt detection and treatment of imported/migratory cases may have prevented outbreaks in the district. This project has demonstrated that field programmes backed by adequate technical, management, operational, and financial controls with robust monitoring are needed for achieving malaria elimination.needed for achieving malaria elimination.

Risk factors for anaemia among Ghanaian women and children vary by population group and climate zone

Anaemia has serious effects on human health and has multifactorial aetiologies. This study aimed to determine putative risk factors for anaemia in children 6-59 months and 15- to 49-year-old non-pregnant women living in Ghana. Data from a nationally representative cross-sectional survey were analysed for associations between anaemia and various anaemia risk factors. National and stratum-specific multivariable regressions were constructed separately for children and women to calculate the adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR) for anaemia of variables found to be statistically significantly associated with anaemia in bivariate analysis. Nationally, the aPR for anaemia was greater in children with iron deficiency (ID; aPR 2.20; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.88, 2.59), malaria parasitaemia (aPR 1.96; 95% CI: 1.65, 2.32), inflammation (aPR 1.26; 95% CI: 1.08, 1.46), vitamin A deficiency (VAD; aPR 1.38; 95% CI: 1.19, 1.60) and stunting (aPR 1.26; 95% CI: 1.09, 1.46).

In women, ID (aPR 4.33; 95% CI: 3.42, 5.49), VAD (aPR 1.61; 95% CI: 1.24, 2.09) and inflammation (aPR 1.59; 95% CI: 1.20, 2.11) were associated with anaemia, whereas overweight and obese women had lower prevalence of anaemia (aPR 0.74; 95% CI: 0.56, 0.97). ID was associated with child anaemia in the Northern and Middle belts, but not in the Southern Belt; conversely, inflammation was associated with anaemia in both children and women in the Southern and Middle belts, but not in the Northern Belt. Anaemia control programmes should be region specific and aim at the prevention of ID, malaria and other drivers of inflammation as they are the main predictors of anaemia in Ghanaian children and women.

From Circulation to Cultivation: Plasmodium In Vivo versus In Vitro

Research on Plasmodium parasites has driven breakthroughs in reducing malaria morbidity and mortality. Standard in vitro culture environments differ dramatically from in vivo conditions in nutrient levels, hematocrit, and rheology and have lower variability in gas levels and temperature.

Nutritional and physical differences lead to pronounced, and often rapid, changes in phenomenon, important for understanding virulence in Plasmodium. Parasite drug sensitivity may be altered due to culture adaptation selection, supraphysiological metabolite concentrations, and in vitro media formulations. Parasites propagated in vitro, versus in vivo, show altered transcriptomic and genomic patterns related to virulence factors, metabolism, gametocytogenesis, and more.

Direct-from-host methodologies avoid the impacts of in vitro culture adaptation but limit the types of assessments that can be performed as many experiments either require equipment not readily available in endemic settings or necessitate long-term manipulation….

Between traditional remedies and pharmaceutical drugs: prevention and treatment of “Palu” in households in Benin, West Africa

In Benin, malaria clinical cases, including the larger popular entity called “Palu” are evoked when people get fever. “Palu” is often self-diagnosed and self-medicated at home. This study aimed to describe the use of herbal medicine, and/or pharmaceutical medicines for prevention and treatment of malaria at home and the factors associated with this usage.

Methods. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Benin in an urban and in a rural area in 2016. Around 600 households in each place were selected by using a random sampling of houses GPS coordinates of the families. The association between socio demographic characteristics and the use of herbal medicine was tested by using logistic regression models.

Results. In Cotonou (urban), 43.64% of households reported using herbal or pharmaceutical medicine to prevent “Palu”, while they were 53.1% in Lobogo (rural). To treat “Palu” in Cotonou, 5.34% of households reported using herbal medicine exclusively, 33.70% pharmaceutical medicine exclusively and 60.96% reported using both. In Lobogo, 4% reported using herbal medicine exclusively, 6.78% pharmaceutical medicine exclusively and 89.22% reported using both. In Cotonou, the factors “age of respondent”, “participation to a traditional form of savings” and “low socioeconomic level of the household” were associated with the use of herbal medicine.

Conclusions. This study shows the strong use of herbal medicine to prevent “Palu” or even treat it, and in this case it is mostly associated with the use of pharmaceutical medicine. It also highlights the fact that malaria control and care seeking behaviour with herbal medicine remain closely linked to household low-income status but also to cultural behaviour. The interest of this study is mostly educational, with regards to community practices concerning “Palu”, and to the design of adapted behaviour change communication strategies. Finally, there is a need to take into account the traditional habits of populations in malaria control and define a rational and risk-free use of herbal medicine as WHO-recommended.

Malaria parasite fools body with protein to dodge immune system

By SHIGEKO SEGAWA: OSAKA- The parasite responsible for malaria generates a look-alike of a human protein to suppress the workings of the immune system, leaving humans “defenseless” against infection, according to Japanese and British researchers.
A team comprised mainly of researchers from Osaka University and the University of Oxford said they hope the finding will help lead to new therapies for the mosquito-borne tropical disease.

As plasmodium is resistant to the immune system, the body’s self-defense system, humans can become infected repeatedly. Three years ago, the researchers realized that when plasmodium infects human red blood cells, it generates proteins called RIFINs, which send out signals for suppressing immunity. During the latest study, the researchers analyzed the structure of RIFIN in detail and found it closely resembles part of the structure of a specific human protein, which is involved in the mechanism for preventing the immune system from staging an attack on the body by mistake.

That protein combines with a molecule that suppresses the workings of the immune system. The scientists found the RIFIN that closely imitates the human protein in shape also combines with the same molecule and dodges attacks of the immune system. “We hope our findings will help develop vaccines and therapeutic drugs for malaria,” said Hisashi Arase, a professor of immunology with Osaka University, who is part of the research team. The research results were published in Nature, the British scientific journal.

Why Do Insect Vectors Not Get Ill from the Microbes They Transmit?

Some Evidence from Malaria-carrying Mosquitos by Kevin Noonan. The conservation of diverse and molecularly well-defined hemocyte types between distantly related mosquito genera and the apparent absence of megacytes in our Ae. aegypti mosquito dataset raise questions as to how the immune systems of these mosquito species have evolved to limit their capacity to transmit parasites and arboviruses to humans. This knowledge will ultimately underpin immunological strategies aimed at interrupting disease transmission by rendering mosquitoes resistant to such pathogens.

The conservation of diverse and molecularly well-defined hemocyte types between distantly related mosquito genera and the apparent absence of megacytes in our Ae. aegypti mosquito dataset raise questions as to how the immune systems of these mosquito species have evolved to limit their capacity to transmit parasites and arboviruses to humans. This knowledge will ultimately underpin immunological strategies aimed at interrupting disease transmission by rendering mosquitoes resistant to such pathogens.

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.