The Chair of the UK parliament’s All-Party Group on Malaria & Neglected Tropical Diseases (APPMG), Jeremy LeFroy MP visited LSTM today to discover more about malaria research and neglected tropical diseases (NTD) control programmes.
Met by LSTM Director, Professor Janet Hemingway, Mr LeFroy was introduced to Dr Britta Urban, a Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Malaria Immunology. Dr Urban outlined her team’s research into the immune responses of the parasite that causes malaria.
A visit to Dr Gareth Lycett’s laboratory followed, which brought an encounter with genetically modified mosquitoes. With the aid of a high powered microscope Mr LeFroy was able to see for himself how changing the genetics of mosquitoes could significantly reduce malaria transmission.
For the afternoon, Mr LeFroy joined Professor Moses Bockarie and his team from LSTM’s Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases (CNTD), along with some of the national NTD control and elimination programme and laboratory managers. Receiving an update of progress and an overview of the current country-based activities. In his address to the audience regarding the role of the APPMG, Mr LeFroy said “for malaria there is quite a lot of public knowledge thanks to high profile people and organisations, such as Comic Relief, however NTD’s does not have that yet” And that “the best use of tax payers money is on NTD’s and that is a message that the British people want to hear”.
CNTD, funded by the UK Department for International Development, is at the forefront of the fight against NTDs, working with national governments and international partners to reduce deaths, disability and burden that these diseases place on the world’s poorest communities.
Mr LeFroy was impressed at the rate of expansion of the malaria research programmes and NTD programmes, particularly the development of CNTD since his last visit to LSTM in 2011.
The aim of the APPMG is to inform Parliamentarians of the devastation that malaria and the neglected tropical diseases cause. Malaria and many of the NTDs are tractable diseases: suffering from malaria is avoidable. Malaria and many of the NTDs are treatable.
Professor Hemingway said “The All Party Parliamentary group on Malaria and NTDs is an influential forum where strategic issues relating to the control and treatment of malaria and NTDs can be debated. Authoritative reports from the group influence both the International and UK political and development agendas.”