Reflections on the 8th Annual PAMCA Conference
Between the 26th to the 28th of September, the Pan-African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA) held its 8th Annual Conference and Exhibition at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda, focussed on the theme of “Harnessing local institutional and community support for the elimination of vector borne diseases”.
The first in-person PAMCA Annual Conference since the pandemic, the event brought together over 500 vector control professionals from all over Africa and the world. Target Malaria was delighted to be in attendance, with team members based in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Uganda and the UK present, representing our teams doing work in entomology, molecular biology and engineering, stakeholder engagement, communication and more.
As an early-career scientist, PAMCA was an excellent opportunity to meet people working across the sector and learn about some up-and-coming research in vector control. Additionally, myself and Jane Wakikona (National Stakeholder engagement officer – Target Malaria Uganda) participated in the Gene Drive preconference workshop co-organised by Target Malaria.
The Conference highlighted the critical importance of African researchers being at the forefront of the fight against vector-borne diseases. Initiatives, such as PAMCA, are paramount in championing African scientists and our research, allowing a forum for the exchange of ideas on some of the most pressing public health issues of our time. An important panel discussion was had on the role of harnessing the capacity of African institutions for a strengthened response to vector-borne diseases.
Emphasis was also placed throughout the three days on the role of supporting women in the field and fighting gender-based discrimination and inequality. It was great to see my colleague at Target Malaria Uganda, Krystal Birungi, be awarded Early-Career Runner Up for the Women in Vector Control Award.
Discussions ranged across a variety of themes – from a talk by Dr. Corine Karema of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria highlighting our current progress in the fight against malaria, to a talk by Dr. Fitsum Girma Tadesse of the Armauer Hansen Research Institute on the increasing threat posed by the Anopheles stephensi mosquito.
On the first day of the Conference, Target Malaria co-organised a symposium titled: “Gene drive mosquitoes: New approaches for community engagement & agreement in vector control”. It featured presentations from Global Stakeholder Engagement Manager Naima Sykes and Burkina Faso Stakeholder Engagement Lead Dr. Lea Pare Toe, and was moderated by Population Geneticist and Stakeholder Engagement Support Officer Dr. Samatha O’Loughlin. The sessions shared Target Malaria’s approach to stakeholder engagement, as well as some of the lessons learned from engagement around the 2019 release of non-gene drive genetically modified mosquitoes. The symposium also included presentations by Professor Greg Lanzaro and Dr. Ana Armas from the University of California Malaria Initiative.
It was also great to see poster presentation by Emmanuel Magala of our Target Malaria Uganda team on the project’s grievance mechanism.
There were some further interesting talks by project members throughout the three-day Conference, touching on topics ranging from entomology to insectary management.
I look forward to coming together in 2023 for the PAMCA Conference once more in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.