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Fine-scale malaria burden evaluation tools from the ACT Consortium applied in Malawi

30 June 2014

The Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (MLW) have joined a team of experts on a five-year malaria control programme around a gamepark in Southern Malawi. The researchers will apply the Easy Access Group (EAG) and continuous Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS) tools they developed with the ACT Consortium.

The large project – a joint effort with African Parks who manage the
Majete Wildlife Reserve in Chikhwawa district – is part of their strategy to serve both conservation interests and development of the nearby communities simultaneously.

Since 2003, the Majete Park has been restored into an environmentally and financially sustainable park, re-introducing a wide range of animals and becoming an increasingly successful tourism attraction.

Recognising that the high burden of malaria can severely undermine the achievements of any development programme, a diverse team of malaria researchers have been asked to lead a five-year malaria control programme in the area in close collaboration with the National Malaria Control Programme, Africa Parks and local NGO ‘The Hunger Project’.

‘Supporting communities to fight malaria’

During the five years, the team will support the implementation of the WHO recommended Scale-Up-For-Impact (SUFI) strategy. They will also assess promising control options, including targeted larval source management and structural house improvements.

The project will have a strong focus on community involvement, in order to strengthen sustainability and empower communities. If successful, it could substantially reduce malaria-associated morbidity and infection, lead to a strengthened health system in the area and provide a potential model for integrated control.

Dr Anja Terlouw from MLW, also Principal Investigator at the ACT Consortium, said: “We are delighted to join this important project, which brings together a strong combination of partners including government, a strong private partner, an NGO and researchers with a wide range of expertise. We are confident this adds up to a critical mass that can successfully support communities to fight malaria in one of the districts in Malawi with the highest malaria burden, by combining known effective methods to control malaria with cutting-edge scientific tools and evaluation methods.”

Applying Monitoring and Evaluation tools to guide malaria control

Dr Anja Terlouw will lead the evaluation of malaria burden changes, together with statistician Prof Peter Diggle. Supported by a postdoctoral researcher and Malawian statistics PhD candidate Mike Chipeta, the team will oversee the implementation, data analyses and interpretation of a comprehensive malaria surveillance system.

This will include two tools that were developed by the team as part of the ACT Consortium over the past years: the Easy Access Group (EAG) and the continuous Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS) tools. Surveillance will focus on determining malaria transmission hotspots and control progress to guide more targeted control efforts.

The researchers in the project are affiliated with the College of Medicine in Malawi, the Universities of Wageningen and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, as well as MLW and its partners University of Lancaster and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the UK.

Photo credit: Janet Storm

Photo credit (homepage): Elson Kambalu

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