MRC Unit The Gambia for three decades has been investigating malaria transmission dynamics, vector behaviour and prevention/control methods, including pioneering work in transmission-blocking vaccines and the development of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) for malaria prevention.
According to the latest estimates from World Health Organisation (WHO), many countries with ongoing malaria transmission including The Gambia have reduced their disease burden significantly. On a global scale, new malaria cases fell by 21% between 2010 and 2015. Malaria death rates fell by 29% in the same 5-year period.
To continue raising the malaria awareness level in The Gambia under the theme End Malaria for Good, MRCG in partnership with National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, organised a press conference and a community outreach in Essau, North Bank Region of The Gambia.
The press conference was organised in the lead up to World Malaria Day, globally commemorated on 25th April. The event was well attended by experts in the field of malaria research who provided on overview of recent treatments and preventative measures against the disease that continues to kill more than 400,000 people worldwide annually. In attendance were also officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the WHO country office, regional directors of health and students and staff of the University of The Gambia.
Speaking at the conference Mr Gibril Jarjue, Deputy Director of Planning indicated that the incidents of the malaria disease have been on the decline since 2004, stating that, “the commonest and most important complication of the disease in children are cerebral malaria, severe anaemia, respiratory distress and hypoglycemia”
MRCG’s Dr Jane Achan, Malaria Coordinator, highlighted on how the vision for a malaria-free world could be achieved, stating that, “to accelerate progress towards achieving global malaria reduction targets, countries should increase investments in malaria prevention strategies and also participate in the development and deployment of new transmission reduction tools”.
The scientific symposium included presentations on the current burden of malaria in the country, results from interventional studies targeting malaria prevention and elimination and studies evaluating emerging challenges to prevention.
Mr Balla Kandeh, the Programme Manger NMCP reiterated the importance of research in informing malaria prevention and control policies and appreciated the critical role that the collaboration with MRCG plays in this process.
As part of the celebrations The Unit also actively participated in the Annual Malaria Marathon and an Educational Theatre Programme in a series of activities marking World Malaria Day. The Annual Malaria Marathon was organised by the Youth Empowerment Through Education and Sports (YETES) in partnership with NMCP and the Educational Theatre Programme was organised by the University of the Gambia.
With a primary purpose to better understand and prevent malaria and promote the global theme: End Malaria For Good, MRCG’s Dr Jane Achan (Malaria Coordinator, MRCG), also attended the Educational Theatre Programme at the University of The Gambia as well as gave a talk on malaria prevention and treatment. The talk was aimed at effectively communicating with individuals from diverse backgrounds with different levels of understanding of malaria disease and its preventive measures.