NEW AFRICAN MALARIA COALITION MEETS IN MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY
In a probing discussion of practical opportunities and difficulties in the fight against malaria in Africa, several faculty, students and colleagues from American universities met for the first time in Manhattan, New York on the afternoon of 6 June 2012. The assembled scientists had decades of experience in Africa, including recent field research and control experience in Angola, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Manhattan was selected for the inaugural meeting because of its central location and rapid access for the participants.
The principal interest of the members of the Coalition is to expand understanding and use of realistic strategies for suppressing malaria transmission in Africa. It is hoped that we can give practical advice to WHO and the US Presidential Malaria Initiative, to increase the effectiveness of their efforts.
During this first luncheon meeting, a presentation was made on the impact of a long-term program of house-spraying with several biocides in Equatorial Guinea, and its impact on changing the indoor resting and biting behavior of malaria mosquitoes (Reddy et al, Outdoor host seeking behaviour of Anopheles gambiae…Malaria Journal 2011, 10:184).
A second presentation on recent improvements in the public health system in Zambia showed their potential for rapidly locating and treating hidden reservoirs of infected persons during the final stage of a malaria suppression program (Davis et al, Early detection of malaria foci….Malaria Journal 2011, 10:260). A strong concern was also expressed about the large numbers of bednets distributed by several groups in Zambia over the last five years, which did not include any plans for their replacement, thus opening the population to increased risks from new infections when the biocide treatment dissipated from the bednets, rendering them ineffective.
Discussion revealed common experiences in Niger and Zambia on the influence of local hydrologic factors in determining mosquito breeding potential, and the need for further field research on the linkage of water table depth with stratification of epidemiologic zones of malaria transmission.
The group developed a consensus that there are serious dangers caused by the current floundering efforts of international agencies to fight malaria in Africa, and that help in rationalization of these efforts should be the focus of this group.
A two-track future for the African Malaria group was proposed, including quarterly afternoon meetings at the central location in Manhattan, as well as some weekend conferences at the participating universities. The intent of the weekend conferences is to develop specific recommendations to assist WHO and the US Malaria Initiative in their work on the African continent. The next meeting of the afternoon group will be on 9 October 2012, again in Manhattan.
A venue near Penn Station on the Amtrak railroad system was selected for the meetings because of its accessibility to people on the East Coast. Frequent and fast train schedules allow for East Coast residents to attend the 3 hour luncheon meeting and being back home by evening.
The following persons attended the inaugural meeting:
Institution Participant Field
Boston Univ. Richard Pollack Entomologist
Colby College James Webb Historian
Columbia Univ. Derek Willis Entomology student
Johns Hopkins U. Clive Shiff Malaria and schistosomiasis
MIT Elfatih Eltahir Hydrology and malaria
MIT Teresa Yamana Climate change and malaria student
MIT Osman Mekki Entomology student
Univ. Vermont Arne Bomblies Hydrology and malaria
Yale Univ. Michael Reddy Malaria control
Convenor William Jobin of Blue Nile Associates
Contact William Jobin at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information, 1 970 560 1182