In observance of World Malaria Day, we asked a sampling of our malaria expert members the following question: What motivates you to keep going in your malaria work during the recent setbacks from COVID-19?
Abdoulaye Djimde, PharmD, PhD, FAAS
2021 Joseph A. LePrince Medal recipient
Board member, 2017-2020
In my corner of the World, malaria killed many more people than did COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic actually disrupted many aspects of the fight against malaria, which resulted in an excess of deaths from malaria as reported by the WHO Malaria Report 2021. Despite the pandemic, it was the more important to keep working on malaria to minimize as much as possible this new added negative impact.
Julie Wallace, MPH
Acting U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, President's Malaria Inititaive (PMI) / USAID
The children and families in communities at risk for malaria are what keep me going. I’m driven by the difference that the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative makes by providing lifesaving resources to so many families globally and by the need to do our part to stop preventable deaths. It has also been incredibly motivating to see how malaria investments benefit health systems broadly and contribute to our response to other infectious disease threats. I have immense hope for the future and believe that through continued investment and collaboration we can end malaria in our lifetime.
Corine Karema, MD
President, Global Health (ACGH) subgroup
The COVID-19 impact cannot be underestimated and has only made it more crucial that we redouble efforts to protect the hard-won gains made. I am motivated by the country's political will, the incredible efforts of partners worldwide and the urgent need to save more lives from this deadly but preventable disease. The momentum we have built over the past decades with country ownership, better use of data to target existing and new tools and a pipeline of transformative tools has put us in good stead to achieve our goal of a world free from malaria within a generation.
Philip Rosenthal, MD, FASTMH
Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous suffering, but the toll of malaria remains. Indeed, in many areas highly endemic for malaria, in particular sub-Saharan Africa, the impact of malaria in the last two years has been much greater than that of COVID-19. Thus, our work to improve means to characterize, treat, and control malaria remains as relevant as ever. The COVID-19 pandemic led to new challenges, but our collaborators in Africa rose to confront these challenges and continued to carry out essential research with only limited disruptions. Now, as the pandemic appears to be waning, continued work on malaria is as important as ever.
Jonathan K. Stiles, PhD, FASTMH
1. COVID-19 killed fewer children in Africa than malaria during the epidemic. The burden of malaria-associated cognitive dysfunction is high. To think that children are our future, I am motivated to continue working on this devastating disease regardless of the shift of emphasis to COVID-19.
2. I am interested in seeing total elimination of malaria morbidity and mortality, especially in children, in my lifetime.
3. Malaria morbidity and mortality continues to impede economic growth and productivity of most malaria-endemic LMICs. There is an economic reason to keep malaria under control everywhere on this planet.
Stephanie Yanow, PhD
Associate Scientific Program Chair, 2015-2020
I am more driven than ever to pursue our malaria vaccine work. The pandemic has fast-tracked vaccine technologies in ways that will benefit malaria vaccine development. There is also an urgent need as malaria cases soar due to pandemic restrictions, diverted funding and overburdened health systems trying to grapple with COVID-19 on top of malaria.