World Malaria Day Celebrations in The Gambia

2 June 2016Working hand in hand with the Gambian National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), MRC Unit The Gambia is at the forefront of research on malaria and on possible interventions for its control. There has been a significant reduction of malaria burden in The Gambia, thanks to the scale-up of control interventions such as long-lasting insecticidal treated bed nets. Some of the first studies on insecticide-treated bed nets were pioneered by The Unit in the late 1980s and were followed by a study showing that insecticide-treated bed nets could dramatically reduce childhood mortality. However, malaria transmission is still ongoing, especially in some regions in the country, and the current focus of The Unit is on projects focusing on interrupting malaria transmission to achieve the goal of malaria elimination within the coming years.

WMD02To commemorate World Malaria Day under the theme “End Malaria for Good”, the malaria team at the MRCG, in collaboration with the NMCP embarked on a series of activities to raise awareness in The Gambia. MRCG participated in the Malaria Symposium and press conference on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 and the Malaria Marathon organised by Youth Empowerment Through Education and Sports on Sunday, 24th April 2016.

The events attracted scientist from MRCG and MOHSW, press officers, Government officials, WHO representatives, staff from the NMCP and MRCG staff. During the Malaria Symposium, researchers had the opportunity to present technical data through poster presentations on different aspects of malaria in The Gambia including entomological studies, surveillance for antimalarial drug resistance and intervention studies to reduce malaria in pregnancy. Discussions were also held on current malaria statistics and malaria improvement strategies to achieve the vision for a malaria-free world as set out in the WHO’s Global technical strategy for malaria 2016 – 2030.

According to Dr Anna Roca, Theme Coordinator of Disease Control & Elimination Theme, research is a key component to target the goal of reaching pre-elimination stages within the coming years in the country and beyond. As a research institution, MRCG is committed to continue investing on targeted malaria intervention for this purpose.

Dr Achan Jane, The Malaria Research Coordinator presented an overview of current malaria research activities at The Unit and emphasized the need for novel approaches to combat remaining foci of malaria transmission. She noted that as the country moves towards elimination, there is a need for rapid and highly efficient surveillance systems to identify the hidden reservoirs of malaria infection.

Mr Dawda Ceesay, Deputy Permanent Secretary, speaking on behalf of the MOHSW said, “Malaria in The Gambia is the probable cause of 4% of infant deaths and 25% of deaths in children 1 to 4 years. Although the economic burden of Malaria in The Gambia has not been fully determined, World Malaria Day presents an opportunity for all mankind to make a difference to End Malaria for Good and help generate broad gains in health and human development.”

Dr Charles Sargo Moses, WHO Country representative said “2015 recorded a major decline in global Malaria cases and deaths since 2000. The Gambia has recorded considerable advances in Malaria control and is implementing nearly all-available Malaria Control Prevention Control interventions.”

The 5k/10k Marathon through the Kotu Quarry and Latrikunda German neighborhoods, ended at the Serrekunda General Hospital in which participants had the chance to learn short malaria prevention lessons during intervals. The celebrations ended in the North Bank Region at Farafenni, on Monday, 25 April 2016.

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