The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $16 million to The Malaria Atlas Project (MAP), which houses the world’s largest malaria database. The MAP, which is based in Perth, Western Australia, uses geospatial modeling and analytics to map and monitor malaria globally and to track the impact of malaria control policy and programs.
A portion of the foundation grant will go to establishing a new MAP Node in the East African region, housed within the Ifakara Health Institute, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Led by MAP senior research fellow Susan Rumisha, PhD, the East Africa MAP Node will operate in alignment with the Perth Node, which is led by Peter Gething, PhD, the Kerry M Stokes Chair in Child Health at Curtin University and Telethon Kids Institute.
Gething said the foundation grant would allow both MAP Nodes to drive forward their world-leading research aimed at eliminating malaria.
“Having an on-the-ground presence in Africa is an exciting new chapter for MAP, with more than $5 million of the Gates Foundation funding going directly towards the establishment of the East Africa Node,” noted Gething, adding that the two nodes would operate as a single, albeit geographically dispersed, research team working closely together to achieve the best outcomes for malaria control in Africa and globally.
“Bringing the MAP team to Africa will allow us to significantly boost research in the region as well as strengthen research capacity in a continent where malaria is endemic,” he said.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) carries the heaviest toll of the global malaria burden, with 95 percent of malaria cases and deaths occurring in this region.
MAP team member and East Africa Node technical lead Punam Amratia, PhD, will join Rumisha in relocating to Dar es Salaam from Perth to establish the node, build the local research team, and drive research in the region. Rumisha said the East Africa Node would benefit the continent by driving research and innovation in geospatial analytics for malaria to generate robust evidence to guide malaria decisions.
Gething pointed out that the latest funding would help MAP generate the annual geospatial malaria modeling and analytics that describe the global landscape of malaria transmission, infection, morbidity, mortality, and intervention coverage.
Other areas of focus will include research to better understand the drivers of malaria trends in Africa, including the recent slowdown in progress against the disease; work on evaluating future threats, including growing drug and insecticide resistance and climate change; and analysis of strategies to improve the efficiency and impact of current and future malaria control tools.
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