Africa has been described as the continent on the rise. In 2014, the World Bank hailed the continent for two decades of steady economic growth that “represent[ed] a quantum jump”. Five years later, the World Malaria Report 2019 paints a grimmer picture of the continent from the lens of malaria prevalence: out of the 228 million cases and 405,000 deaths in 2018 around the world, 85% occurred in just 19 countries, all being in sub-Saharan Africa, except one (India). Why is the “Africa Rising” narrative not translating into rising gains and investments in fighting malaria, when malaria kills African youth, weakens the whole population and debilitates economies?

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Historic levels of funding have reduced the global burden of malaria in recent years. The number of deaths caused by the disease worldwide has sharply declined, with a 50% drop recorded since the early 2000s. Progress has been attributed primarily to increasing the coverage of malaria control interventions, which currently involve mostly the deployment of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs), indoor residual spraying (IRS) and drugs to curb the spread and prevalence of the disease. Questions remain however, as to whether scaling up these interventions is sufficient to eradicate malaria. The World Malaria Report for 2019 indicates that global progress against the disease has been plateauing for the past three years, raising doubts as to whether “more of the same” will achieve malaria elimination.

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Introducing Target Malaria Cabo Verde

Located off the coast of West Africa, the archipelago of Cabo Verde consists of nine inhabited islands. Malaria has been endemic since the settlement of the islands during the 16th century.

In the 1950s, Cabo Verde had about 15,000 malaria cases per year. Since then, the country was twice close to achieving malaria elimination. A total of 819 malaria cases were reported in the country between 2010 and 2019, the majority of which were P. falciparum. In 2016, it was classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the E-2020 Initiative, a group of 21 countries having the potential to eliminate malaria by 2020. The country was on track to achieve this goal, when an outbreak erupted in 2017.

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The Target Malaria team in Uganda is currently involved in preparations for colour variant mosquito studies to start in December this year. Colour-variant mosquitoes are different forms of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes occurring naturally in the wild. The difference can be seen during the larva and pupa stages of mosquitoes. During these stages, one form has a white pigment on the dorsum (dorsal part of the thorax), while another form lacks the pigment.

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New Stakeholder Engagement Manager

I am delighted to be joining Target Malaria as the new Stakeholder Engagement Manager, taking over from Delphine Thizy after her six wonderful years in the project. I will be based out of the Imperial College campus in Silwood, UK 

I am a strategic communications and stakeholder engagement specialist with ten years’ experience working with the Government of Tanzania and multinational organizations operating in East Africa, the US and the UK. Prior to joining Target Malaria, I was Senior Manager for Strategic Communications at Gatsby Africa, a philanthropic foundation set up by David Sainsbury to support East African governments to achieve economic growth in key sectors that offer opportunities for value addition, job creation and income generation.

 

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If we want to make malaria eradication a reality by 2050, innovation and new tools are essential, as suggested by the WHO and the Lancet Commission. Target Malaria is working to achieve this goal by developing novel genetic technologies to reduce the population of malaria mosquitoes in Africa. The project aims to develop genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes that would impact the density of mosquitoes by affecting their reproduction. As research progresses at the Crisanti Lab at Imperial College London, the teams at Polo of Genomics, Genetics and Biology (PoloGGB) in Italy are studying GM mosquitoes in laboratories that mimic the mosquitoes’ natural environment. They assess the population dynamics and they use mathematical models to predict the length of time during which the modified mosquitoes will persist in the population.

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In 1897, Sir Ronald Ross made a discovery that would change the world forever: he proved that mosquitoes were responsible for transmitting malaria between humans. World Mosquito Day, celebrated every year on August 20, marks this fundamental discovery.

To celebrate World Mosquito Day, I would like to take you on a virtual tour of our laboratories and insectaries around the world.

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International Youth Day is commemorated on August 12. This year’s celebrations will raise awareness of the need to make institutions more inclusive to enable youth engagement in formal political mechanisms. The 2020 theme is Youth Engagement for Global Action, and it could not have been a better choice. It reflects the unique qualities youths bring: resilience, activism and leadership for change and sustainability.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is adding pressure to already stretched health care systems worldwide. Low and middle-income countries are experiencing significant challenges when resources are scarce. Years of progress in the fight against malaria, ebola, HIV and Tuberculosis could be lost.

The Lancet Global Health just released a paper authored by a group led by Alexandra Hogan[1] entitled: “HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria: how can the impact of COVID-19 be minimised?”.

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This year’s Sustainable Development Report  analyses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), rather than just reporting progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.  

The world is facing its worst public health and economic crises in a century. The pandemic is having a severe negative effect on most of the goals, mainly threatening the progress made towards decreasing poverty, inequality, hunger and increasing health, well-being and economic growth in recent years. COVID-19’s impact is not the same among countries or individuals, but one thing is clear: no one is exempt.  

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