© Mobile Malaria Project
Today is World Malaria Day, an international day to raise awareness of malaria as a curable and preventable disease. This year’s motto ‘Zero malaria starts with me’ signals a grassroots campaign to empower local communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care, as well as aiming to keep malaria prevention high on political agendas.
Malaria infects more than 200 million people every year and kills around 400,000, nearly all in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a vast improvement on 20 years ago and anti-malarial drugs have halved deaths since 2000. But now the parasites which cause the disease are fighting back, developing resistance to the medicines.
Resistance varies locally, which is where the Mobile Malaria Project, 2018’s Land Rover Bursary recipients, come in.
With funding and the loan of a specially equipped Land Rover Discovery, the expedition team are spending eight weeks driving across Namibia, Zambia and Tanzania to Kenya – over 4,000 miles in total. At each stop, they’ll be working with local partners who have experience on the front line of malaria prevention.
Led by Dr George Busby from the University of Oxford, the team is working with local researchers investigating how genetic sequencing can provide information on the types of mosquito present in an area and whether they are resistant to specific medicines or insecticides. With all the necessary equipment and personnel in a single vehicle, the expedition aims to demonstrate the potential for genetic data to be generated in the field with limited and lightweight resources.
As Dr Busby points out: “This project does not involve us taking samples away. We are committed to working with and learning from local teams and sharing our knowledge and methods with the guys on the ground.”
Find out more about the Mobile Malaria Project.
Find out more about the Land Rover Bursary.