Maximising the effectiveness of life-saving malaria prevention for children under 2 years old across Africa
A new initiative - with a total funding package of US 35 million from UNITAID - will deliver enhanced malaria prevention to children under two years old across Africa through a WHO-recommended but under-implemented intervention. Danish researchers from ISIM are contributing
Three researchers from the DRUGS Team at the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, UCPH, are contributing to this important initiative, which is led by Population Services International (PSI) in partnership with The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and working in collaboration with the Ministries of Health in Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mozambique.
The Danish contribution
With DKK five million, Associate Professor Michael Alifrangis, Assistant Professor Helle Smedegaard Hansson and Associate Professor MD Pascal Magnussen from the DRUGS Team will be contributing to the initiative by exploring molecular markers of antimalarial drug resistance in the malaria parasites infecting these children under two years old. Moreover, they and colleagues at LSHTM, will be exploring how drug resistance in the malaria parasites can be avoided in the successful roll-out of this preventive intervention. The project will also look into the feasibility and economic aspects of implementing the intervention.
“In recent years, such efforts in the control of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa have focused on protecting the most vulnerable, including pregnant women and younger children, by use of prophylactic antimalarial drugs,” Michael Alifrangis tells.
“However, preventive strategies targeting the group of infants, who are particularly vulnerable, have not been widely implemented. Therefore, there is a great need to explore, how we can protect these infants against the deadly disease in the best way,” Michael Alifrangis continues. “ And the success of such a strategy is much dependent on whether the malaria parasites will develop resistance to the preventive treatment.”
There is a great need to explore, how we can protect infants against these deadly malaria parasites in the best way.”
Assistant Professor Helle Smedegaard Hansson explains how the team will explore these deadly malaria parasites:
“We will be using our own molecular methodology platform, which is based on next generation sequencing to screen a large sample set of malaria parasites collected from patients in the involved countries for genetic markers of relevance for drug resistance in the malaria parasites,” she says.
The DRUGS Team’s research will furthermore include socio-economic aspects of the intervention.
“To implement such a strategy in the project countries and scale up to national level and eventually across sub-Saharan Africa, the feasibility, acceptability and economic effectiveness of the intervention need to be assessed,” Pascal Magnussen adds.
“The challenge is to convince policy makers on the immediate and long-term benefits of the intervention on infant health and survival” he further adds.