|Statement of Kathleen Collins, M.Sc., Lee Hall,
M.D., Ph.D., and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
on Africa Malaria Day 2006, April 25, 2006
NIAID Commemorates Africa Malaria Day 2006 in Kampala, Uganda,
by Hosting International Malaria Research and Prevention Meeting
Africa Malaria Day, April 25, 2006, commemorates Africa’s struggle
to fight malaria and marks the six-year anniversary of the first
African Summit on Malaria. On that occasion, leaders from 44 malaria-affected
African nations and founding agencies of the global Roll Back Malaria
Partnership gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, to deliberate on the struggle
to fight malaria. The summit culminated in the historic signing
of the Abuja Declaration, which committed governments to an intensive
effort to halve the burden of malaria in Africa by 2010 and mark
April 25 as Africa Malaria Day.
Worldwide, an estimated 300 to 500 million clinical cases of malaria
occur each year, resulting in an estimated one million deaths annually
in Africa alone. This age-old scourge is endemic to more than 90
countries, putting at least 41 percent of the world’s population
at risk for malaria infection. In addition, malaria exacts a significant
economic toll in affected areas, reducing economic growth in African
countries up to 1.3 percent each year.
Africa Malaria Day provides an opportunity to show solidarity
with the people and countries most affected by malaria, and to
reaffirm our collective commitment to the worldwide efforts to
reduce malaria incidence, morbidity and mortality. Reducing the
burden of malaria will be accomplished only through research, prevention
and control. At the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), we
are working with our global partners to accelerate the development
of improved diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and strategies
to enhance medical care and treatment in resource-poor settings.
NIAID has a longstanding interest and commitment to malaria research
aimed at understanding the biology of malaria parasites and their
interactions with their mosquito vectors and human hosts, and at
developing, evaluating, and applying the tools needed for effective
and sustainable malaria prevention, treatment and control. NIAID
works closely with organizations sharing this interest and commitment
such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),
the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission, the
European-Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership, the European
Malaria Vaccine Initiative, the Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation, the Malaria Vaccine Initiative and the Medicines
for Malaria Venture. In addition, NIAID has joined with the NIH
Fogarty International Center and other institutions to form the
Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM). The mission of this initiative
is to increase and enhance worldwide research on malaria by facilitating
multinational research cooperation, and by supporting the career
development and research efforts of African scientists working
in malaria-endemic areas. NIAID also has developed and supports
the Malaria Research and Reference Reagent Resource Center (MR4)
to provide reagents, materials and protocols necessary for malaria
research; in addition, plans are under way to support a resource
center in Africa.
Today, NIAID-supported scientists in the United States and many
other countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, the Gambia,
Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda, are
striving to address the biomedical and public health challenges
posed by malaria. These investigators are trying to better understand
the vector biology and ecology of mosquitoes and the development
of immunity to malaria. Other research focuses on the molecular
biology and biochemistry of the parasite; mechanisms of disease
pathogenesis; drug susceptibility and drug resistance; and the
development of new malaria vaccines and drugs. NIAID also supports
clinical researchers in the quest to understand and intervene against
severe malaria, especially in children and in pregnant women, two
groups that are at particularly high risk. In addition, the Institute
supports the clinical evaluation of candidate malaria vaccines
in malaria-endemic countries in Africa.
This year’s Africa Malaria Day will highlight the need for universal
access to artemesinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). When
used with other anti-malaria drugs, artemesinins, a new class of
drugs, have proven to be highly effective in curing malaria, and
they may dramatically slow the development of drug resistance.
NIAID supports preclinical and clinical studies of combination
therapies for malaria, especially those including artemesinins.
Currently, 34 African countries have adopted artemesinin-based
combination therapies as the first-line treatment, a policy advocated
by the WHO, the Global Fund and the Gates Foundation. In June 2005,
President Bush announced the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI),
designed to cut malaria deaths in half after three years of malaria
control implementation in at least 12 target countries. The initiative,
already active in Angola, Tanzania and Uganda, is led by USAID
and the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes
NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.fightingmalaria.gov).
The PMI interventions are threefold: artemesinin-based combination
therapies; insecticide-treated nets with indoor residual spraying;
and intermittent treatment of pregnant women to prevent malaria.
This year NIAID is commemorating Africa Malaria Day in Kampala,
Uganda, by hosting NIAID’s first annual malaria research and prevention
meeting, “Malaria Research into Practice: Research to Advise Policy,
Policy to Advise Research.” We hope this meeting will begin an
invaluable dialogue between communities and provide information
about NIAID-funded malaria research to Africans in order to facilitate
the development of research strategies aimed at malaria control.
On this Africa Malaria Day, NIAID applauds the global efforts
of scientists, healthcare workers, as well as communities and organizations
dedicated to developing effective malaria prevention and treatment
strategies with the hope of ultimately ridding the world of this
terrible killer. We face enormous challenges in reaching our goal,
and emphasize the need for a robust, global commitment by all sectors
of society to curb malaria.
Further information on Africa Malaria Day 2006 can be found at http://www.rollbackmalaria.org/amd2006/.
Kathleen Collins, M.Sc., is the international program officer
for Africa in the NIAID Office of Global Research. Lee Hall,
MD, 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 News Office 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 http://www.nih.gov.