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African researchers committed to ending malaria.

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African researchers committed to ending malaria.

KAMPALA, Uganda, March 27, 2024 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- Despite the challenges posed by the persistent threat of malaria globally, Target Malaria is resolutely committed to exploring scientific innovation to combat this deadly disease, highlighting the invaluable contributions of African women in science to eradicate malaria in Africa.

The need to encourage more young African girls to pursue careers in science cannot be overemphasized. A UNESCO report reveals that only 35% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) students in higher education globally are women.

Lea Pare Toe is responsible for stakeholder engagement for Target Malaria Burkina Faso, which is part of the Target Malaria consortium based at the Institut de Recherches en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS) in Bobo-Dioulasso.

Lea Pare Toe, Head of Stakeholder Engagement for Target Malaria Burkina Faso, highlights the urgency of integrating more women into the scientific field. “Research shows that women generally receive smaller research grants, have shorter and less paid careers, and are underrepresented in top journals and leadership positions,” she explains. . She highlights the challenges young African girls face, from entrenched gender stereotypes to a lack of role models. “The fields of science and research need more women, and this is particularly true in Africa, where many young talents exist. »

Target Malaria is a pioneer in the use of gene drive, a natural genetic mechanism, which propagates a genetic modification in malaria-carrying mosquitoes to alter the rate of heredity and affect their ability to reproduce. This innovative approach has the potential to become a sustainable and cost-effective method for reducing the population of malaria-carrying mosquitoes and ultimately stopping disease transmission. Target Malaria also ensures that African voices and expertise play a central role in the development and evaluation of these technologies.

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“You cannot conduct community-based research in a specific scientific field, in a country, without having knowledge in that field. My role is primarily community focused, involving all members in the science, research and deployment phases. Areas like synthetic biology offer promising avenues for innovation that could revolutionize our fight against vector-borne diseases in a lasting way. “Community education and knowledge sharing are essential elements of this project, and I hope to encourage more young women to pursue scientific careers.” adds Para Toe.

According to Krystal Birungi, Field Entomology Coordinator at Target Malaria Uganda, malaria continues to cause a considerable number of victims in Africa. In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the region was home to 94% of malaria cases (233 million) and 95% (580,000) of malaria-related deaths. Children under five years old accounted for approximately 80% of all malaria deaths.

Krystal Mwesiga Birungi is the Field Entomology Coordinator for Target Malaria Uganda, part of the Target Malaria Consortium based at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

“Coming from Uganda, I have witnessed the devastating impact of malaria. Today, as an adult resident in one of the countries where the burden of this disease is among the highest in the worldI am dedicating my career to finding solutions to combat this deadly threat,” says Ms. Birungi. Rising resistance to available interventions, such as drugs and insecticides, is undermining efforts to control the disease. As climate change advances, millions of people risk being increasingly exposed to malaria. At the same time, the recent increase in the incidence of other vector-borne diseases—such as dengue—even more urgently highlights the need for innovative approaches to address these converging threats.

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Through collaborative efforts and innovative approaches, such as gene drive technologies, Target Malaria has the potential to have a transformative impact. “Our teams in Africa, Europe and North America are charting the path towards a malaria-free Africa, where every child has the opportunity to thrive,” explained Mme Birungi.

At the recent malaria ministerial conference held in Cameroon, Krystal represented the Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) as an observer, advocating for decisive action against malaria. The recent commitment made by African health ministers in Yaoundé to end malaria deaths is a powerful example for the UN Compact for the Future. “There are still communities in Africa discussing how many children they should have because they anticipate losing some to malaria,” she says. “I want to help build a world where my children don’t have to make this decision. »

Target Malaria’s mission goes beyond scientific innovation; it is the symbol of a commitment to co-development, excellence and scientific responsibility, while recognizing the invaluable contributions of African women in the fight against malaria.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) pour Target Malaria.

About Target Malaria

Target Malaria is a nonprofit research consortium committed to developing and sharing innovative, cost-effective and sustainable genetic technologies to modify mosquitoes and reduce malaria transmission. Our vision is to contribute to a world free of malaria. We strive for excellence in all areas of our business, leading the way in responsible research and development of genetic technologies, including gene driving. www.targetmalaria.org

Target Malaria receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as Open Philanthropy. Imperial College London is the lead granting body, working with partners in Africa, Europe and North America.

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Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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