Saturday 25th April is World Malaria Day and it provides an opportunity to celebrate the progress that is being made at LSTM to fight the disease where it is most prevalent, in Africa.
Thanks to improved treatment and control tools, the death rate for malaria has dropped by 47% since the year 2000. However the problem of increased resistance to insecticide in mosquito populations and the resistance to some drugs from the disease itself means that it has never been more important to ensure that treatment for the disease is as effective as possible. The burden of disease is highest in Africa, where 90% of malaria deaths occur. It is vital that LSTM continues to utilise the unique expertise and build capacity within African institutions.
Dr David Sinclair and Professor Paul Garner, co-ordinating editors of the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group based at LSTM has been part of a panel of experts supporting the World Health Organisation in the development of the 3rdedition of the WHO Guidelines for the treatment of malaria (published here). The Guidelines Group drew on 11 Cochrane reviews in forming these new guidelines, most of which were authored by researchers in African institutions with technical support from the Liverpool Cochrane Team. These reviews have been an important part of the Guidelines panel deliberation and decisions making. Professor Garner said: “The impact of these reviews, particularly those undertaken by researchers from African institutions, acknowledges the excellent work being carried out by Cochrane authors in Africa to provide top quality health evidence to assist the delivery of programmes and health interventions in low and middle income countries.”
The Roll Back Malaria Partnership have also used today to launch a global call to action to increase coverage of preventative treatment for malaria during pregnancy throughout sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the working group around this issue, the LSTM based Malaria in Pregnancy (MiP) Consortium is part of this call on national malaria programmes, donors, researchers etc. to reinforce the adoption Intermittent preventative treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), which sees the administration of three doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine during the 2nd trimester and at all scheduled anti natal visits afterwards. IPTp reduces anaemia, increasing the likelihood of babies achieving a healthier birth weight giving them a greater chance of survival.
To coincide with World Malaria Day, the Financial Times commissioned a special report into the disease and a number of experts from LSTM were interviewed. You can read the report here.