Developing local vector control expertise and talent in Africa
I was inspired today by learning about the indirect and somewhat hidden value creation of IVCC capacity building amongst African scientists working in vector control.
I spent the day with the Pan-African Malaria Vector Research Consortium (PAMVERC) team based here at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College in Moshi, Tanzania. IVCC works closely with Professor Mark Roland (LSTMH), Professor Frank Mosha (Director of Research at KCMCo), Dr. Matt Kirby (Program Manager) and the local Moshi scientists to test novel malaria insecticide interventions in the laboratory and field. We are also working, with the support of Alex Wright, to create a unique GLP-like accreditation process to strengthen and improve the efficiency and robustness of field evaluation.
This close IVCC/PAMVERC partnership has indirectly, but very effectively, helped train a new generation of MS and PhD students in entomology and vector biology who can take a lead in the eradication of malaria and other neglected tropical diseases. Over the past few years, some twelve MS students as well as a number of PhD students have worked on IVCC trials for their theses. To name just two, Dr Jovin Kitau, a medical entomologist and Dr Johnson Matowo, a molecular biologist specialising on insecticide resistance.
This often unrecognised approach to capacity building means that innovation funders get a significant return on their investments. It’s a double return, too—in the short term, outstanding trials data that lead to better prevention of malaria transmission, and in the longer term, building a foundation of local expertise and talent. This foundation of experts in malaria and vector control is essential to our hopes of eventually eradicating malaria from Africa.
I wonder if we can do more formally to promote the training and development of local scientists?