Malaria, a complex parasitic disease confined mostly to tropical areas and transmitted by female Anophelesmosquitoes, is unlike other infectious diseases in that it is not caused by a single biological entity. The disease is the result of a complex interplay between three biological systems each with its own complex lifecycle, environment, habits and pathogenesis profiles. There were an estimated 214 million clinical cases of malaria and 438 000 deaths in 2015, with most cases and deaths noted in the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa region. Climatic changes and/or population movements may favour malaria transmission, possibly reintroducing the disease in malaria-free areas. Malaria-endemic countries are faced with high cost of prevention and treatment of the disease.
An urgent need exists for research and surveillance in many malaria areas to eliminate malaria with the use of an integrated management approach, including safer alternatives to insecticides being used, especially those that are known for resistance. Support is needed for continued development of new technologies and strategies as sustainable alternative malaria control methods. The battle to control malaria is largely based on two strategies: control of the vector mosquitoes, and control of the malaria parasite. At the same time novel approaches to secure community disease awareness and support for public health campaigns are also important and will enable communities to contribute to an integrated management approach.
The University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC) is a fully integrated, multi-disciplinary, interdepartmental and interfaculty initiative. The aim of the Institute is to coordinate and promote collaborative research on safer and sustainable malaria control and management strategies, and to generate new knowledge and support new activities pertaining to safe malaria control in Africa through fundamental and applied research, supported by research collaboration with regional, national and international partners. The departments involved in this trans-disciplinary approach within the various UP faculties all have established research programmes with a similar aim in combating malaria effectively without causing human health risk. It was therefore strategic to combine the research conducted in this field into a focused and well managed Institute. The diverse group of researchers involved with the Institute encompasses all aspects of malaria with research clusters focusing on human health, parasite control and vector control. Research includes innovative and novel methods of malaria control, including community focused health promotion and education towards malaria elimination in South Africa and Africa. The Institute has adopted the ‘One Health’ approach towards outcomes of improved health, adopting integrated strategies that include social, cultural, economic and ecological dimensions that bring added value for human-, animal- and environmental health.
The establishment of the UP ISMC was approved by the University of Pretoria Senate on 2 June 2016. The Institute was 'upgraded' from the existing UP Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP CSMC), and boasts five years of achievements reached. To read more on the Centre's (now Institute's) major achievements over the past five years click here.
The UP ISMC hosts a DST/NRF SARChI research chair on sustainable malaria control, acts as the academic partner in the Namaacha Malaria Research Centre of Excellence established with Goodbye Malaria in Namaacha, southern Mozambique, and is a South African Medical Research Council (SA MRC) Collaborating Centre for malaria research. Collectively the network of Collaborating Centres will provide a multi-disciplinary approach to malaria research; synergise malaria research efforts to achieve common goals; and promote collaboration among malaria researchers in Southern Africa.
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