University of Pretoria opens integrated Malaria Research Centre
By Nicolize Mulder
Posted on 21 November 2011
Prof C De Jager
The University of Pretoria (UP) today officially established itself as a national leader in the fight against malaria with the launch of its new Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control.
The Centre will coordinate a number of established malaria research initiatives within different faculties of the University, all aimed at the control and eventual eradication of the disease.
According to Prof Tiaan de Jager, Director of the Centre, there is an urgent need for research and surveillance in many malaria areas to eliminate the disease by adopting an integrated management approach.
“The Centre has the potential to become an international leader in the fight against the disease as it will be able to guide policy makers on suitable strategies for sustainable malaria control. Top researchers from the University are researching innovative and safe ways to combat malaria, including finding alternatives for the pesticide DDT,” Prof De Jager explained.
Current research includes studies on the impact of climate change on malaria areas, an investigation of physical methods of mosquito control, the effects of DDT on human and environmental health, as well as the examination of new and innovative ways to target weaknesses in malaria parasite biology.
Another key component in the holistic approach to prevention and management is the engagement with the affected populations to ensure that they are part of the decision making and sustainability of successful interventions, Prof De Jager said. In order to achieve sustainable interventions, community members should also fully understand and believe in the strategies, and where it is appropriate be able to carry some responsibility for these in the long term. It is therefore important that community participation is ensured in the research projects and that health promotion and education of the affected community members form part of the research objectives and methods.
The UP Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control will collaborate with the Departments of Health and Environmental Affairs and will utilise and build on established partnerships and networks, all working towards the elimination of malaria.