Contact: Jennifer Cabe
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland The first-ever international conference focused on Plasmodium vivax malaria research is being held this week in Bangkok, Thailand. More than 150 of the world's leading Vivax malaria scientists are presenting and reviewing new information about Vivax malaria transmission, morbidity, pathology, drug treatment, drug resistance, current vaccine candidates, genetics, and epidemiology. "Vivax Malaria Research: 2002 and Beyond" was convened by the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) with support from MIM partners, including the NIH, Roll Back Malaria at the World Health Organization (WHO), The Wellcome Trust, U.S. Army Medical Component Armed Forces Research Institute for Medical Science (AFRIMS), Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), Naval Medical Research Institute (NMRI), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Institut Pasteur, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mahidol University (Bangkok, Thailand), the Ministry of Health of Thailand, the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), the Asian Centre of International Parasite Control (ACIPAC), the Malaria Research and Reference Reagent Resource Center (MR4), The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), and the Australian Army Malaria Institute.
While not the cause of significant mortality, Vivax malaria significantly contributes to malaria morbidity among people of all ages in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. It is estimated that 70 to 80 million cases of malaria caused by Vivax occur annually throughout the world, causing tremendous human suffering and major negative effects on economic productivity at the individual, family, community and national levels. Approximately 10-20% of the world's cases of Vivax infection occur in Africa. Outside of Africa, Vivax accounts for more than 50% of all malaria cases, with 80-90% occurring in the Middle East, Asia, and the Western Pacific (mostly in the most tropical regions) and 10-15% occurring in Central and South America.
"MIM and its partners recognized the importance of addressing the challenges of Vivax malaria, and we are pleased that so many co-sponsors are working with us to move a research agenda forward," said Gerald T. Keusch, M.D., Director of the Fogarty International Center (FIC) and of the MIM Secretariat. He added, "We expect that this conference will result in recommendations on critical areas for Vivax malaria research and training, as well as how to increase access to standardized Vivax malaria reagents and other scientific resources. The results of this conference will benefit not only the Vivax malaria research and control community, but will also assist colleagues focused on P. falciparum, the parasite responsible for much of the world's malaria mortality."
Specific issues to be discussed at the Vivax malaria conference include methodologies to more accurately assess the global disease burden due to Vivax malaria; how to better study the pathogenesis of Vivax malaria, which produces acute symptoms and anemia and adverse pregnancy outcomes; antimalarial drug resistance; and expected increasing future trends in Vivax malaria transmission.
Abstracts and presentations from "Vivax Malaria Research: 2002 and Beyond" will be available on the MIM website (http://mim.nih.gov) in March. A series of scientific articles resulting from the conference will appear in the peer-reviewed journal Trends in Parasitology.
Later this year MIM will hold the Third MIM Pan-African Malaria Conference (November 18 to 22) in Arusha, Tanzania. That conference will bring together researchers and control experts who battle P. falciparum malaria, which is the dominant form of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as those working on Vivax malaria.
Until recently, the burden of malaria, particularly that of Vivax malaria, has been underestimated and unexamined in regard to its clinical components and economic implications. New information about the severity of malaria and its economic toll, including the Vivax data stated above, was published by MIM in a 2001 supplement to The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. To request a copy of "The Intolerable Burden of Malaria: A New Look at the Numbers," e-mail MIM Secretariat Coordinator Andréa Egan, Ph.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Launched in 1997 by an international alliance of research and public health agencies and scientists from malaria-endemic countries, MIM stimulates collaborative research to answer the needs of public health programs in malaria-endemic countries, to modernize communication systems used by the African malaria research community, and to strengthen research capacity and human resources in malaria-endemic countries. FIC currently serves as MIM Secretariat. Detailed information about MIM, its partners, and activities is available on the MIM website at http://mim.nih.gov.
FIC is the international component of the NIH. FIC promotes and supports scientific research internationally to reduce disparities in global health. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fact sheets, press releases, and other FIC-related materials are available on the FIC website at http://www.nih.gov/fic.