International Conference Addresses Malaria in Africa
NIH director Dr. Harold Varmus recently joined an international team of 150 malaria researchers and representatives of funding agencies for a Conference on Malaria in Africa held in Dakar, Senegal. In addition to identifying the top research priorities in the field, conference participants were urged to recommend collaborative efforts on malaria involving partners in the U.S., Europe and Africa and to identify funding mechanisms to address these urgent scientific needs. Thirty-five countries were represented, 22 of these in Africa.
With NIH director Dr. Harold Varmus (third from l) at the International Conference on Malaria in Africa are (from l) Ousmane NGom, Senegalese minister of public health and social action; an unidentified senior Senegalese official; Dr. Maxime Schwartz, director-general of the Pasteur Institute; and Dr. Ebrahim Samba, director of the World Health Organization's regional office for Africa.
Discussion groups on pathogenesis, epidemiology, entomology, interventions, health systems and operational research, immunology, antimalarial drugs and mechanisms of cooperation and support produced the bulk of recommendations in the final conference report. Participants recommended expansion of research networks, particularly for clinical trials, the development of shared resources such as DNA repositories and databases, enhanced communications between researchers in developing and developed countries, workshops on methodologies and other issues, and other collaborative efforts.
In his closing remarks, Varmus noted that the work of the conference served as a "blueprint for future research on malaria" and that it was a first step in a longer-term initiative. Scientific advisors and funding agency representatives will meet again in 6 months to review the directives contained in the final report and to consider mechanisms of support for collaborative activities.
NIAID provided scientific guidance for the conference and helped organize it with the Fogarty International Center, which conceived of the meeting as a way of strengthening collaborative research efforts in Africa.
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