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Bart G.J. Knols's blog

Column: Will the current global malaria programme pass a Cochrane Review?

July 24, 2014 - 21:12 -- Bart G.J. Knols
The column below was contributed by Dr. Manuel Lluberas.
 
Public health entomology was an exciting career during the latter part of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century. During those years, the “let’s go” attitude of a number of public health entomologists made significant strides against vector-borne diseases like malaria and yellow fever. Their discoveries were so significant and earth-shattering that they were recognized by their peers, their governments and the world and continue to amaze many in the public health arena. Some were even recognized and rewarded with Nobel Prizes...

Planes, trains and vehicles: The neglected role of passive transportation!

July 17, 2014 - 20:27 -- Bart G.J. Knols
I still remember the day ten years ago in a workshop in Sudan on the establishment of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) project for the control of An. arabiensis in northern Sudan. The discussion was mainly about the isolation of the area, in the middle of which old Prof. Osman Abdelnour, chief entomologist of Sudan who passed away two weeks ago, raised his hand and hardly pulled his body from the chair and asked: and what about passive transportation?...

Column: Bad science is just filth in the brain!

June 19, 2014 - 20:05 -- Bart G.J. Knols
Bear with me…. This complaint is not new, I know, but it is one that should be reiterated many times over: there is an extremely large gap in knowledge between researchers and the general public, and this is not good!
 
Certainly you must have come across people’s scientific ideas on trams, buses and trains (for those of us who do use public transport) or maybe at a dinner party or BBQ you are attending, or even, like I did, while waiting for your take-away food. The topics that come up more often are related to nutrition (it seems that the 5:2 diet is all the rage right now), the benefits of certain exercises (how billions of people are alive today without ever having done Yoga is perplexing to some) and more and more, the dangers of vaccines. In all of these discussions, give or take, the ‘science’ facts that are discussed are simply quick scans of a newspaper headline or maybe the first paragraph of the news article or worst, a facebook post on a friends wall that was read last night or this morning. Somehow, these quick, unreferenced, snippets of information get stuck in people’s minds and actually help set the foundations to very strong opinions. Usually, pathetic ones...

Column: How fragile we are

June 19, 2014 - 19:47 -- Bart G.J. Knols
So you live in South Sudan. Your nation exists for just less than two years, but unfortunately has been the scene of rivalry and outspoken conflict. You, together with hundreds of thousands fellow countrymen have had to flee. You have arrived in Ethiopia, after a difficult journey partly by foot and partly by boat. You have arrived in Ethiopia, you are safe.
 
Ethiopia has arranged for refugee camps sites to be set up to accommodate many of you. Unfortunately, the area is seasonally affected by malaria. And although you are very familiar with the dark side of malaria, it is the least of worries to you now. You have to get registered; you need to get food, cooking materials, and accommodation. Accommodation is a big word for the variety of tents, tukuls, plastic sheeting and other forms of shelter you see. But you collect what you can, and you get a net...

Who keeps track of it all? We're seeking nominations!

June 12, 2014 - 20:26 -- Bart G.J. Knols

As a malaria professional you are supposed to keep track of what is happening in our field. That's nothing new. As scholars, researchers, policy makers, doctors, students, etc. we read about new developments, we read scientific articles, and follow the news. And in doing so we are familiar with who is doing what, follows what approach, and is seeking for new solutions to end our common enemy. Again, that is nothing new. But allow us to challenge you... 

Column: Malaria in Shakespeare’s land

June 12, 2014 - 20:01 -- Bart G.J. Knols
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....”. Although actually this is one of the most famous introductions of the history of movies (and I am pretty sure that most of my readers have recognized it), this is also, in many senses, the way many health professionals think about malaria. Many western doctors and nurses see paludism (malaria) as a remote and tropical disease, even covered with a flavour of romanticism. The truth is that malaria has been prevalent in areas as far north as the city of Groningen (at 53º North) in Holland and has been active until the last decades of the 20th Century in countries as, among many others, The Netherlands, Spain or Australia. In some instances, as Spain or Italy, malaria was not completely eradicated until the 50s or 60s. For example, a breakout of indigenous cases of malaria was confirmed as late as 1972 in Corsica, the French Island of the Mediterranean Sea.

World Cup and malaria

June 10, 2014 - 15:19 -- Bart G.J. Knols

Roll Back Malaria today released a small video about football player Didier Drogba - who suffered malaria and is now an ambassador for our cause.

We ask our readers: What do you think of this video? Will it serve its purpose? Will it reach its target audience?

We are curious to know your thoughts. Is this good money spent on advocacy or a simplified message only mentioning nets?

The social press release is attached to this blog.

Column: Could Gorgas succeed in the 21st Century?

May 22, 2014 - 20:53 -- Bart G.J. Knols
This year marks a century since the official opening of the Panama Canal, one of the most iconic structures, one of the greatest engineering feats of all times, a symbol of technological prowess and ingenuity, and a testament of the sheer determination of the human spirit. While commemorating the monumental accomplishment embodied in this gigantic undertaking, we should take a pause to remember the thousands of lives lost during its construction to accidents and mosquito-borne diseases.
 
Besides the sheer magnitude of the project, one of the greatest challenges the builders of the Panama Canal faced was dealing with mosquito-borne diseases common to the area. When the United States took over construction of the Panama Canal on May 4, 1904, the Isthmus of Panama was under the firm control of tropical diseases. By then, approximately 12,000 workers had perished during the construction of the Panama Railway and over 22,000 during the French attempt to build the canal. Many of these deaths were due primarily to yellow fever and malaria. In fact, construction of the Panama Railway was stopped several times due to the lack of healthy workers. American project managers quickly realized that previous disease control efforts were ineffective and something had to be done. Armed with the information provided by Sir Ronald Ross in India in 1897 that malaria was spread by mosquitoes, mosquito control methods were implemented as part of the Panama Canal construction project...

Malaria eradication: Doing it better the second time round

May 22, 2014 - 20:40 -- Bart G.J. Knols
This guest editorial was contributed by Dr. Carlos Chaccour - he and his team are currently running an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to further develop ivemectin as an anti-malaria strategy. Visit the campaign's website by clicking here.
 
The eighth World Health Assembly took action to “help put an eventual end to an ancient problem. Malaria, the single most serious worldwide communicable disease…” [1]. The meeting took place in Mexico in May 1955. In exactly a year we will mark the 50th anniversary of the launching of the Global Malaria Eradication Programme (1955-1969). Several reasons have been given for the failure of this multinational endeavour to achieve its primary goal. Vertical structures, a lack of community integration and the (almost) exclusive use of indoor-residual spraying are some of them. The resulting program was not particularly flexible nor quick enough to spot and correct some of these failures before international support was withdrawn [2]...

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