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Rebound warning at malaria symposium

Angus Morgan

18 April, 2016

IMAGE: Professor James Beeson presents to the End Malaria For Good Symposium

The many important gains achieved in the fight against malaria in the 21st century will be quickly relinquished if the positive momentum that’s been generated is not harnessed and enhanced.

That was a key message of Professor James Beeson’s opening address to Monday’s End Malaria For Good Symposium, hosted by Burnet Institute at the AMREP Lecture Theatre in the lead up to World Malaria Day, April 25.

Professor Beeson, Burnet’s Head, Centre for Biomedical Research, said new solutions including drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, vector control and other interventions are urgently needed.

IMAGE: Symposium presenters Dr Nicole den Elzen, Dr Stuart A Ralph, and Associate Professor Julie Simpson

“There’s been a significant reduction in malaria cases and malaria deaths … but funding is not being maintained and there are concerns about whether we will have enough funding in the future to achieve the global objectives,” Professor Beeson said.

“This is what we are all worried about, malaria rebound, because history tells us that there’s been intensified control efforts, even a push towards elimination, but when the foot’s taken off the accelerator malaria rebounds quite quickly.

“That tells us that the gains are brittle and can be easily lost.”

IMAGE: Dr Harin Karunajeewa presents on a clinician’s perspective of malaria elimination in the South Pacific

Professor Beeson described progress towards the development of a malaria vaccine as ‘challenging and slow’, and singled out the spread of resistance to the artemisinin derivative group of drugs, and insecticide resistance generally, as other priority issues that need to be addressed.

“This is an alarming issue given that artemisinin combination therapies are the mainstay now for treatment of malaria and there’s no cheap and affordable alternative for this group of drugs,” he said.

Presenters at the symposium included Melbourne University’s Associate Professor Julie Simpson and Dr Stuart A Ralph; Dr Harin Karunajeewa from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute; and Dr Nicole den Elzen, Director of Policy and Operations, Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI).

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Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor James Beeson

Deputy Director (People); Head of Malaria Immunity and Vaccines Laboratory; Adjunct Professor Monash University

Telephone

+61385062442

Email

james.beeson@burnet.edu.au

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