Africa University helps bring Africa a step closer to a future without Malaria.
19 October 2017
AU has received a state of the art insectary, the first establishment of its kind housed at an academic institution in Zimbabwe. The insectary is built to hold a capacity of up to 1 million non malaria carrying mosquitoes, and will play host to a reference colony, the largest in Zimbabwe, which will serve as a national holding unit for laboratory acclimatized mosquitoes and will pave the way for cutting edge research and development.
This is a partnership between the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in Zimbabwe, Africa University and various international stakeholders who are united by the common vision of the eradication of Malaria in Zimbabwe and Africa. The partnership founded upon the Outline of Agreed Activities, OAA, between AU and the Ministry of Health is one where the University is tasked with providing technical support in terms of specialized research for Malaria control operations. The insectary will hold a reference colony for the entire country with the only other being in the National Institute of Health Research in Harare, Zimbabwe which is the research arm of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
Professor Sungano Mharakurwa (PhD University of Oxford) head of Africa University’s Malaria Research Unit and Dean of the College of Health, Agriculture and Natural Resources said, “Africa University is passionate about Malaria eradication and we as an institution are not about creating ivory towers of knowledge but are more interested in making an impact. This University was chosen to lead the way on this due to the recognition of AU as an important partner in making eradication a reality because of our work in the community and our willingness to avail our facilities and expertise wherever it is needed.”
Malaria transmitting mosquitoes shall be reared, chief amongst these the Anopheles Arabiensis that is a carrier of the strain of Malaria that affects much of Sub- Saharan Africa. These reference colonies shall be used for quality control to measure and gauge the effectiveness of malaria control mechanisms such as indoor residual spraying, Mosquito Net efficacy over time and most importantly to drive innovation and impactful research in fighting the scourge of Malaria, all developed and nurtured within the University’s i5 Hub. The insectary will beef up existing operations that are ongoing within the University’s retooled Malaria Research Lab which is staffed by a highly trained team in Malaria transmission and the dynamics involved in mitigation and reduction in high risk regions.
Nearly half of the world's population is at risk of malaria. In 2015, there were roughly 212 million malaria cases and an estimated 429 000 malaria deaths. Increased prevention and control measures have led to a 29% reduction in malaria mortality rates globally since 2010. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 90% of malaria cases and 92% of malaria deaths (WHO 2016).
The road to Malaria eradication is one that will surely be one that is not easy to walk. The dedication and heart that Africa University and its staff along with its tenacious partners have shown to bravely tackle this responsibility head on provides a glimmer of hope for the African continent and the end of this deadly disease.
By Jeanette Dadzie
Story Editor Tsitsi Kanonge