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Genetic control via population replacement: where do transgenics stand?

November 30, 2012 - 16:43 -- Mark Benedict

It is said that predictions are very difficult – especially when they concern the future. No doubt Scott O’neil and his Eliminate Dengue team never would have expected to be where they are now 10 years ago. In contrast, those who dreamt of releasing malaria-refractory transgenic mosquitoes two decades ago in the Tucson desert would have been surprised too.

Free Book for MalariaWorld Members!

November 27, 2012 - 21:45 -- Bart G.J. Knols

This week I was contacted by Dr. Dana Dalrymple with a very unusual offer. He wishes to provide all MalariaWorld subscribers free access to his book 'Artemisia annua, Artemisinin, ACTs & Malaria Control in Africa' published just seven months ago. This is truly remarkable and we highly appreciate this gesture!

In his email he said: "This will get it to the heart of the international malaria community and doubtless reach many who otherwise may not have heard of, or had access to, it." That is the spirit of truly open and global collaboration we aim to achieve with MalariaWorld. So a big 'Thank you' to Dr. Dalrymple! If you download it, why not send him a private message through the platform (available to subcribers) to let him know you appreciate his action...

Mercedes-Benz should win Cannes creativity award!

October 23, 2012 - 22:00 -- Bart G.J. Knols

In July I was approached by a Dutch radio station that brought a most interesting YouTube video to my attention. It features an award winning idea by Go Outside magazine (based in Brazil), this being the 'Repellent radio'. It was created by the Sao Paulo-based advertising agency Talent, and it won the Radio Grand Prix award 2012 at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Take a look...

The case for open access

September 3, 2012 - 20:14 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The article below was published in Index on Censorship on 30 August 2012. Click here for the online version.

For most of us, it’s entirely logical that medical practitioners should be familiar with the latest scientific knowledge and evidence-based practices in order to treat ailments. This forms our fundamental basis of trust in medical professionals. If your doctor suggests a CT scan or drug X, you follow that advice on the basis of trust. So how would you feel if your doctor confesses that he lacks the latest scientific information about your condition?

Psychology Unveils Pathways To Better Cerebral Malaria Therapy

August 22, 2012 - 08:33 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The article below was contributed by journalist Ntaryike Divine Jr. (Douala, Cameroon) as part of the SjCOOP project in collaboration with MalariaWorld.

Over the years malaria has remained unwavering in its ravages, killing hundreds of thousands worldwide yearly, defying drugs and sapping household coffers of hard-earned income.
 
The disease, prevalent in the tropics is transmitted via bites of female bloodsucking anopheles mosquitoes infected with parasites of the genus Plasmodium.  Of the five plasmodium species, research has proven that P. falciparum is particularly dangerous.

Margaret Heffernan: A must see for all MW subscribers!

August 7, 2012 - 09:14 -- Bart G.J. Knols

I am not sure if at all you are familiar with TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, with its motto 'Ideas worth spreading'. I love to watch these talks, they inspire me, provide energy, and are often fun to watch.

Yesterday I watched the talk by Margaret Heffernan with the title 'Dare to disagree'. This is a very interesting talk and it made me think of the world of malaria. First, have a look at what she has to say...

Why screening houses is more cost-effective than bednets

August 1, 2012 - 15:50 -- William Jobin

People tend to do quick cost-benefit comparisons of bednets vs metallic screens, and make some large mistakes. Bednets are temporary, protect only against anopheline mosquitoes which bite at night, and are used only about one-third of the time. One of the reasons for their misuse is that they are suffocating to sleep under.

A deluge of genetic-control-of-mosquitoes news: recap

July 23, 2012 - 01:37 -- Mark Benedict

Seldom does so much news appear so suddenly that it grabs me by the ears and says, “You MUST write a blog. Now!” Following are the highlights of recent publications that reflect the maturing potential for genetic control to affect malaria and dengue transmission. If you’re interested in a quick summary of recent news and views, here it is.

Which is easier, to eradicate malaria or to find the Higgs Boson?

July 15, 2012 - 11:49 -- William Jobin
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Last week I was in Geneva, trying to understand the WHO fight against malaria, when - to my delight - the folks at CERN announced that they had found the Higgs Boson! In fact we were driving out near Geneva Airport, right over the Super Hadron Collider, when they made the announcement. But it made me wonder about WHO. Why was it easier for CERN to find the Boson than for WHO to suppress malaria?

Malaria: a full-time problem addressed on a part-time basis by amateur entomologists

July 12, 2012 - 15:51 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The editorial below was written by Manuel F. LLuberas, MS IDHA, Public Health Entomologist

More than a decade after implementation, the global malaria control strategy has proven woefully inadequate. It has reported expenditures exceeding several billion dollars and relies heavily on passive methods like mosquito nets but has been unable to meet its goals of reducing an annual morbidity rate that continues to hover around half billion and a mortality rate equivalent to six Jumbo jetliners crashing daily. The time has come to get serious about this problem. Malaria vector control programs around the world need to be placed under trained public health entomologists who can implement comprehensive mosquito population suppression methods and deploy truly integrated vector control systems. Continuing in the current path is unacceptable and wastes quickly dwindling, limited resources.

Is the bednet era coming to an end?

June 22, 2012 - 12:47 -- Bart G.J. Knols

Whenever I teach on the history of malaria, I talk about the different time periods when certain ideas were fashionable and implemented, and then disappeared, and sometimes came back much later.

Take the 'chloroquine era'. Discovered by Bayer scientists in the early 1930s and saved millions of lives around the globe, followed by resistance popping up in SE Asia and Colombia in the late 1950s. Resistance spreading to Africa in the late 1970s, and its use now largely reduced. End of the 'chloroquine era'.

Time to give spatial repellency its rightful role in vector control

June 19, 2012 - 19:19 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The following Guest editorial was provided by Richard Tren, Kimberly Hess, and Donald Roberts.

Progress is being made against malaria. As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria cases have declined by more than 50% between 2000 and 2010, and malaria-specific mortality has declined by 26% [1].  These gains are mainly due to the use of insecticides to control disease-spreading insects (vector control) through insecticide-treated bednets and indoor residual spraying (IRS). Despite the importance of public health insecticides in vector control, there is very little appreciation and understanding of how insecticides actually work in disease prevention.

Improving the vector control innovation process

June 7, 2012 - 20:41 -- Bart G.J. Knols

Insecticide resistance and the limits of our current vector control tools threaten our global progress against vector-borne diseases. Innovative vector control tools are therefore urgently needed, but some technical, financial and programmatic barriers may hinder innovation. In October 2011, a gathering of stakeholders including individuals from IVCC, WHO, donor institutions, industry, and other partners issued a joint call for a mapping of the current process to introduce new vector control tools for public health and the need to identify the challenges faced today in this process.

E-interview with Prof. Marc Coosemans (Belgium)

June 6, 2012 - 21:34 -- Bart G.J. Knols

E-interview with Marc Coosemans, senior full professor, medical entomology unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium. The team and collaborators of Prof. Coosemans were recently awarded a $ 3 million grant by the Gates Foundation, to study the effects of community-wide use of topical repellents on malaria in Cambodia, when used in conjunction with insecticide-treated bednets.

Are transgenic mosquitoes beating old-school sterile insect technique?

June 5, 2012 - 16:42 -- Mark Benedict
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A friend and colleague asked me whether all the media excitement about transgenic mosquitoes represents real accomplishments that beat non-transgenic sterile insect technique (SIT). Good question. In the first of a two-part blog, I’ll tell you where I think things stand, first in SIT. In the second part, I’ll look at population replacement.

Amazing statements by leading malariologists

May 21, 2012 - 20:51 -- Bart G.J. Knols

Last week, publication of the WHO report on insecticide resistance did not go unnoticed. It was taken up by the journal Nature, and in a news article by Amy Maxmen some truly remarkable statements by some of the leading malaria researchers are to be found. I trust that these people saw the article and gave consent to its publication, so any quote in it must really have come from them. Be prepared...

Winston Hide's courageous move

May 18, 2012 - 09:57 -- Bart G.J. Knols

This week, Harvard School of Public Health's Associate Professor Winston Hide made a courageous move: he resigned from being the associate editor of the journal Genomics (an Elsevier journal). Why? Because he could no longer accept the inability of scientists in developing countries to access full articles stuck behind paywalls thrown up by publishers. A bold and remarkable step. He published the rationale for making this decision this week in the Guardian.

Can we maintain effectiveness of the tools?

May 17, 2012 - 12:30 -- Bart G.J. Knols

This week WHO reiterated the fragility of the gains the world has made over the last decade through intense deployment of vector control in the fight against malaria. Reuters published an online article on the matter titled 'Insecticide resistance threatens malaria fight'. In it, WHO Director General, Margaret Chan, warns of the seriousness of the situation in Africa and India. Apparently, in ever more places the toolbox, filled with four classes of chemicals, is gradually emptying.

WHO's interim position statement on larviciding for malaria control in Africa

April 30, 2012 - 16:05 -- Bart G.J. Knols

Last week, WHO published a statement regarding the potential of larviciding for malaria control in Africa. This followed the circulation of a draft version of the statement in August 2011. That draft was sent to a limited group of people (how many I don't know) for comments (including myself). I attach the official version to this editorial.

E-interview with Prof. Marcel Tanner (Switzerland, 1952)

April 4, 2012 - 20:48 -- Bart G.J. Knols

 

Professor Tanner is Chief Executive of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), based in Basel. He is an epidemiologist and chair of medical parasitology and epidemiology at the University of Basel. Besides this, he is engaged in numerous activities and initiatives that research and control communicable diseases, notably malaria. 

If you don't have a username or password or have forgotten it...

March 22, 2012 - 21:13 -- Bart G.J. Knols
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This is the last week before you will have to log in in order to have access to the platform (as of 29 March 2012). That's why we here explain to you what to do:

1) If you never had an account with MalariaWorld

2) If you registered before but forgot your username and/or password.

GM mosquitoes: A perspective from Oxitec

March 22, 2012 - 15:18 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The editorial below was written by Camilla Beech, Regulatory Affairs Manager,  Oxitec Ltd, UK, partially as a response to a recent editorial by Guy Reeves, on regulatory aspects of GM mosquitoes.

 

Having spent over 10 years developing novel genetic approaches to control insect pests, we’re acutely aware of the importance of proceeding with caution, of doing so in a transparent and open manner, and of engaging in the most effective way possible with the diverse communities who have an interest in the development and use of these new technologies.

WHO should measure the prevalence of malaria in Africa

March 8, 2012 - 19:56 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The article below was written by Dr. Bill Jobin and first posted as a comment under the most recent poll. I elevated it to a Guest editorial.

 

It is unfortunate that we have recently seen a great deal of confusion about the amount of malaria in Africa.  The confusion arises because most of the people making the estimates are not scientists but artists; computer artists.  It would be better if we relied on scientists.  Computer artists, using their own data and their own inspirations, get varying answers and generate conflicting maps and graphs.  But scientists, using standardized techniques and randomized sampling, get the same answers, no matter who is doing the work.  We urgently need accurate numbers on malaria...

Tackling The Malaria “End Game”: Regional Needs And Challenges For Successful Malaria Elimination

February 29, 2012 - 21:15 -- Bart G.J. Knols

The article below was written by Prof. John Beier, Editor of Acta Tropica, about a special issue of the journal published in March 2012.

 

This special issue (SI) of Acta Tropica features 20 articles highlighting the activities and plans of 10 NIH/NIAID International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) located in 7 malaria endemic regions of the world. The SI informs readers about diverse and complex malaria issues, and will be of special interest for students, investigators, and policy-makers who need to understand and deal with current challenges for malaria elimination. 

Guest Editorial: Scientific standards and the release of genetically modified insects for vector control

February 28, 2012 - 21:11 -- Bart G.J. Knols

This guest editorial was written by Dr. Guy Reeves of the Max-Planck institute in Plön, Germany.

 
Field trials of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have already progressed to free releases in populated areas in a number of countries. A recent publication in PLoS NTD provides a critical summary of the events leading up to these trials and is aimed at non-specialist readers. While advocating the value of field testing transgenic techniques for suppressing disease vector populations, it highlights a number of troubling scientific precedents.

“Truth is not enough” part II: AAAS agrees

February 18, 2012 - 18:54 -- Mark Benedict
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I blogged recently that getting the facts out about genetic engineering of mosquitoes would not be enough to persuade those who are hard anti-GM activists that they can be safely developed. I also argued that becoming an activist allowed one to abandon the bothersome constraints of truth. AAAS appears to agree with me, but have they made the right call?

 

Guest Editorial: Malaria in Palestine, a lesson for all of us.

February 18, 2012 - 15:59 -- Bart G.J. Knols

This Guest Editorial was written by Anton Alexander (retired solicitor, UK), based on an online presentation about Palestine and how it freed itself from malaria. No doubt of interest to those studying the history of malaria, but equally important for those that are criticial about malaria elimination. 

"Sadly, malaria is often treated by the media in many western countries as a fashion item - it goes quiet and out of fashion, then returns as a topic that is newsworthy, and then quiet again. Many pay lip-service to the destructive and dangerous consequences of the disease. Others treat it as something to which they do not relate, or as something only in far distant places, or it occurs only to other people, and it doesn't impinge on their comfortable lifestyles. It may be that if the western world honestly took malaria seriously, with a priority given to funding malaria eradication and research, we may be that much closer to the discovery of that 'silver bullet' to attack and rid the world of this dreadful disease.

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