|Statement of B. F. (Lee) Hall, M.D., Ph.D.,
and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.|
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health on World Malaria Day, April 25, 2008
Global Research Needed to Address a Disease without Borders
We commemorate the first World Malaria Day on April 25 with new
vigor and optimism, gratified that so many of our partners have
continued their commitment and others have joined the effort. We
applaud increased public awareness of malaria as a global health
problem, a renewed commitment to control malaria effectively throughout
the world, and ambitious calls for malaria elimination and eventual
In recognition of World Malaria Day, the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes
of Health, released two documents that describe a set of actions — national
as well as international — that lay the scientific foundation
for continued public health advances in the struggle against malaria. The
NIAID Strategic Plan for Malaria Research: Efforts to Accelerate
Control and Eradication of Malaria through Biomedical Research (http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/Malaria/PDF/StrategicPlan.pdf)
presents a long-term vision that links progress in malaria control
to evolving research needs and priorities. The NIAID Research
Agenda for Malaria (http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/Malaria/PDF/ResearchAgenda.pdf)
identifies specific gaps and opportunities in the research portfolio,
defines research priorities and lays out a series of research objectives
and activities that address these needs and priorities.
The theme of this inaugural World Malaria Day, "A Disease
Without Borders," reflects the worldwide impact of malaria
and underscores the increased need for global collaboration. More
than 40 percent of the world's population living in more than 100
countries is at risk of contracting malaria. Although malaria exacts
its greatest toll in sub-Saharan Africa, the disease also affects
people in many parts of Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 300 million
to 500 million cases of clinical malaria worldwide occur each year,
killing 1.3 million people, most of whom live in developing nations.
The vast majority of deaths occur in children under the age of
5 and in pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria also impedes
economic growth and development in affected countries.
Programs such as the President's Malaria Initiative, the Global
Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and many national
malaria control programs are reducing the numbers of people who
become sick or die from malaria. Nevertheless, we must increase
and sustain malaria control efforts, especially if we are ever
to achieve our mission to eradicate the disease throughout the
History has taught us that malaria is remarkably resilient, resurging
because of the emergence of drug-resistant parasites and insecticide-resistant
mosquitoes. New approaches and strategies will be required to sustain
the successes of control programs over the long term.
Fortunately, scientists have made remarkable progress in understanding
malaria parasite and mosquito biology and in translating these
findings into tools to prevent and treat disease. For example,
a promising candidate malaria vaccine known as RTS,S has been shown
to offer partial protection against malaria in studies among children
and infants in Mozambique. A more recent clinical trial conducted
in 40 adult volunteers in Mali demonstrated that a second candidate
malaria vaccine based on the malaria protein AMA-1 is safe and
elicits a strong immune response. Based on these results, a trial
of this candidate vaccine was recently launched in 400 Malian children.
Other candidate malaria vaccines are in early stages of clinical
testing. Another recent effort to sequence 54 variants of the most
deadly malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, revealed
nearly 50,000 genetic variations. This knowledge may help researchers
understand how the organism evolves and may reveal potential drug
and vaccine targets. Other investigators have already taken advantage
of genome sequence data to identify which genes are expressed in
human malaria and are correlating this information with disease
manifestations as another way to identify drug and vaccine targets.
As part of our broad effort in global health research, NIAID supports
basic, translational and clinical research to develop the tools
needed to prevent, treat and control malaria. The control, elimination
and ultimate eradication of malaria will require a long-term, sustained
effort that will necessitate strengthening the many partnerships
that already exist as well as forming new collaborations.
Through our partners in the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria,
we are building a critical, sustainable malaria research capacity
in Africa. This initiative seeks to increase and enhance research
on malaria worldwide by facilitating multinational research cooperation,
and by supporting the career development and research efforts of
scientists working in malaria-endemic areas. NIAID also has developed
and supports the Malaria Research and Reference Reagent Resource
Center to provide research reagents, materials and protocols to
facilitate the work of malaria researchers worldwide.
We recognize the efforts of the researchers, healthcare workers,
communities and organizations dedicated to identifying and developing
effective tools and interventions to treat, prevent and control — and
eventually eliminate and possibly eradicate — malaria globally.
NIAID has worked collaboratively for many years with numerous partners,
including Fogarty international Center, the National Library of
Medicine, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S.
Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
the World Health Organization, the European Commission, the European-Developing
Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, the European Malaria Vaccine
Initiative, the Wellcome Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
the Malaria Vaccine Initiative and the Medicines for Malaria Venture.
The goals of these research partnerships in malaria are ambitious,
and the challenges correspondingly formidable; however, the objectives
are worthy of our greatest efforts and scientific minds. Together,
the global community will continue to transform scientific advances
into highly effective interventions against the ancient scourge
of malaria, and eventually defeat this global disease.
Visit NIAID's malaria Web site [http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/Malaria/default.htm]
for more information.
Lee Hall, M.D., Ph.D., is chief of the Parasitology and International
Programs Branch in the NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious
Diseases. Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is director of the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National
Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
Media inquiries can be directed to the NIAID Office of
Communications at 301-402-1663, firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health. NIAID
supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat
infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted
infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential
agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on basic immunology,
transplantation and immune-related disorders, including autoimmune
diseases, asthma and allergies.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.