Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Malaria research initiative launched in South Africa

Shares

A new South African research initiative that aims to find new and more effective ways of fighting malaria was launched yesterday (7 February).

It got an immediate boost from the South African government, which pledged 11.5 milllion rand (US$1.85 million) in funding.

The South African Malaria Initiative (SAMI) will promote collaborations between scientists at South African universities, science councils and other institutions, but also plans to forge links with researchers elsewhere in Africa and further afield.

It will focus on developing new medicines and better ways to diagnose malaria, as well as researching how the malaria parasite interacts with its mosquito host.

Even though South Africa has relatively few malaria cases compared to other countries in the region, the disease still poses a serious threat, says Jane Morris, director of the African Centre for Gene Technologies, which began planning SAMI last year.

The parasite is becoming increasingly resistant to drugs and insecticides. Last month, the World Health Organization warned that it could also develop resistance to the world's most effective malaria drug, artemisinin, if it is used inappropriately (see WHO warns against misuse of key malaria drug).

Morris said scientists are racing to find new ways to combat malaria and the mosquitoes that spread it, and that SAMI would seek additional funds from international donors to support its contribution to the fight against Africa's most deadly disease.

Science minister Mosibudi Mangena urged SAMI to find ways to combat malaria that were affordable and practical for developing countries.

Malaria kills between one and two million people each year, mostly in poor countries. About 57 per cent of the 500 million malaria cases reported each year occur in sub-Saharan-Africa, 30 per cent in Asia, and about five per cent in the Americas, says the WHO.

Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.