Update on Malaria Research in Mozambique

Arsenio Manhice, a journalist from Mozambique, provides us an update on malaria research at a leading institute in his country. A version of this report appeared in Portuguese in the newspaper “notícias“:

cism_logo.gifA series of scientific initiatives are underway at the Center for Research in Health Manhica (CISM) aiming to provide solutions to tackle the problem of resistance to drugs and insecticides used against malaria.

According to Eusébio Macete, Director of the biomedical research institute, among other initiatives, scientists are collecting mosquitoes that transmit the malaria parasite. The exercise includes an analysis of the different episodes of illness in people who arrive at clinics in the district of Manhica.

“We hope to have a block of information that can monitor the trend of malaria in its most complex context. That is why we consider the clinical aspects and impact of various measures are being introduced to control the disease as spraying, use of mosquito nets and medication,” the Director said.

For the purpose of study and possible solutions, the researchers began to distribute mosquito nets in the province of Sofala. Districts were chosen Inhaminga, Mwanza, Nhamatanda and Gorongosa.

dscn8015-sm.JPGThis is a joint initiative between the Centre for Health Research Manhiça, US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) of the United States, PSI and the National Malaria Control Program. PSI is involved in the local distribution of mosquito nets.

In Manhica CISM will monitor the transmission of malaria to know how it varies. “We do what are called cross-sectional studies that look at aspects such as the number of people who were infected and number of mosquito nets, houses fumigated and malaria cases registered in hospitals,” the Director said. It is an annual activity.

Studying malaria in pregnant women is another component of research that is being seen by scientists. This arises because one of the guidelines of the National Malaria Control is using intermittent preventive treatment with sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP).

Due to the resistance of parasites to SP in other countries, the CISM is preparing a new alternative to save pregnant women. The initiative is from Mozambique and four other African countries. Having started in March 2009, the study ends in the middle of next year. “The goal is to see if mefloquine might have the same effect as SP in terms of preventing malaria in pregnancy.”

New solutions are not enough. Macete encourages people to use the tools to combat malaria are available. “Certainly there is a complexity that is the durability of the nets during the rainy season. The technicians who do the spraying must find the balance needed for example to do more patrols and use insecticides that last longer,” the Director stressed.

For now, the scientist believes that much work must be done to adjust the conditions of the country versus the available financial resources, characteristics of transmitters and type of insecticides available in the market.

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