Dr. El-Sayed is currently working at the Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRI) in Khartoum, Sudan where she leads the malaria research group. She is responsible for managing malaria research projects, availing national and international financial support for research activities, seeking financial and technical support for rehabilitation and capacity building of the laboratories.
She is supervising research assistants and post-graduate students, creating links between the group and groups in other national and international institutions, organizing and conducting training courses and workshops in relevant topics for researchers and postgraduate students from TMRI and other institutions and universities, organizing and participating in expert meetings and missions to research projects, leading technical committees of research projects, and preparing progress reports and publications for the research outcomes.
She is a research consultant for a number of national institutions and for international companies working with those institutions, e.g. National consultant to Lahmeyer International Company (German) which was responsible for an Environmental Impact Assessment of Merowe Dam, Merowe Dam Implementation Unit. She has been participating in writing and editing of the Biennial Report of the institute since 2005. She is an active member in several national and international committees.
Dr Badria El-Sayed is the Executive Manager of Sudan Academy of Sciences Journal, published by the Sudan Academy of Sciences. Responsible for: handling and processing of submitted papers, checking whether their layout follow SASJ Guidelines, applying the regulations and recommendations of the editorial board with regard to the selection of the reviewers, following up the reports of the reviewers and editing of the papers, supervising the final format of the journal, its publication and distribution.
Q: You are currently involved in several malaria research projects. Can you outline these to us?
A: As principal investigator I have been involved in eleven malaria research projects, seven of these were successfully completed and four are ongoing. I got grants from international organizations for eight out of these eleven projects. We are currently conducting a national project for the study of the impact of mass drug administration (MDA) using artsunate/sulphadoxine pyrimethamine (AS/SP) during the dry season for elimination of the dry season sub-patent parasitaemia on malaria prevalence during the transmission season in eastern Sudan where transmission is markedly seasonal. A national project for the study of the Impact of Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) on the Incidence of Malaria in Children in Gezira State, Sudan, is currently being performed in the Gezira area. It is a double blind placebo controlled trial using the combination SP + AQ. We are ready to start the IPTc trial in mid September by enrolling 634 child 2 – 10 years per arm. It will include three rounds with a gap of one month between them. The rebound effect will be studied next year. The group is also collaborating in studying the effect of Colonization on genetic diversity of Anopheles arabiensis and male competitiveness. This is an IAEA Research Contract in collaboration with eleven countries. It is part of the IAEA Coordinated Research Project that aims in improving mass rearing of Anopheles arabiensis. Last is the National project ‘Investigating the use of the Sterile Insect Technique for Elimination of the Malaria Vector Anopheles arabiensis in Northern Sudan’.
I am also collaborating in two additional projects: The genetics of varied chloroquine response of Plasmodium falciparum isolates in eastern Sudan (with PI Nahla Gadalla of TMRI), sponsored by IAEA and WHO/TDR. And 'Markers of evolving resistance to artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) and their association with enhanced transmission of Plasmodium falciparum to anopheline mosquitoes'. Sponsored by EU FP7 MALACTRES consortium; WHO/TDR; IAEA; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (PI Colin Sutherland, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine).
Q: Can you tell us more about the drug-related research you undertake in Sudan? What is the goal of this research?
A: In areas of seasonal malaria transmission, the dry season sub-patent parasitaemia could be a possible source for re-appearance of malaria cases in the next transmission season after a very long dry season when no mosquitoes are present. Treating the carriers of subpatent parasitaemia before the transmission season might be an effective new strategy for controlling malaria in areas of marked seasonal transmission. One of our projects aimed at studying the cost-benefit of pre-season treatment with AS/SP compared to AS/SP treatment during the transmission season, and its long-term impact on malaria transmission. A community-based intervention study was conducted in three villages in eastern Sudan for two successive years (2006/7).
Parasitaemia detected by microscopy in the dry season was very low and none of the cases was symptomatic The impact of the preseason treatment on subpatent parasitaemia was found to be highly significant in the two intervention villages. However, the control village Abunaga showed no significant reduction in the percent of subpatent parasitaemia The incomplete preseason treatment coverage in the intervention villages in 2006 led to insignificant difference in malaria prevalence between the villages (P > 0.05) whereas the 100% coverage in 2007 led to zero prevalence in the intervention villages during the transmission season i.e. malaria has been completely eliminated from the villages and the difference from the control village was highly significant (P < 0.001).
Cost-benefit analysis reflected that this method was beneficial and less costly than treating malaria cases during the season. If applied properly by the national malaria control programme as a policy and with high coverage rate, preseason treatment may save 75% of the budget lost annually in malaria infection and protect 35.2% of the total population of this area from getting malaria during the season. It may even lead to elimination of malaria if applied for a few successive years.
Q: You are pioneering the use of the Sterile Insect Technique in Africa. How far has this progressed?
A: The first planning meeting on development of mosquito SIT was held in Vienna in June 2001 to review the state of art for possible use of SIT for the control of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Criteria for the selection of species and sites were specified during the meeting. The mosquito Anopheles arabiensis was selected due to its importance as a malaria vector, ability to colonize and genetic knowledge. The Nile River valley in the Northern Sudan was selected for a feasibility study because it is isolated and has only one vector species, A. arabiensis. An impressive amount of work has been carried out over the past years. It was focussed on the development of the site, collection of the baseline data and initiation and maintenance of a colony of A. arabiensis. The activities included comprehensive larval surveys on breeding sites, studies on ecology and behaviour of A. arabiensis, mating behaviour of males, irradiation, packing and transportation of irradiated males, small scale field releases, studies on the effect of rearing conditions on lipid and glycogen reserve of males, studies on the effect of colonization on the ability of male to compete with wild mate for wild female and comprehensive genetic studies and gene flow for population between Dongola and Khartoum. According to the SIT 'phased conditional approach' developed for tsetse and fruit flies, the project is progressing well at stage two. In addition to the IAEA continuous support, we managed to attract financial support from the Islamic Development Bank for the coming phases of the project.
Q: What is, in your opinion, needed to eliminate malaria from Sudan?
A: An integrated approach modified according to intensity and seasonality of transmission like targeting dry season sub-patent parasitaemia in seasonal areas, which has already been proven as an effective method. Mosquito SIT could work in hypoendemic areas with perennial transmission and low mosquito density. The SIT could be greatly helped if manmade breeding sites are eliminated during the dry season by the use of simple classical methods like larviciding and mechanical control. These could markedly reduce mosquito density to a level that could hopefully be eliminated by the SIT.