Meghalaya: Breakthrough in Malaria Research through Shillong’s Centre for Study of Complex Malaria soon!
Shillong, September 24, 2017: A stakeholder engagement and launch event was organized by the Indian Institute of Public Health Shillong (IIPH) in collaboration with the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of Meghalaya at the State Convention Centre in Shillong. The Centre for the Study of Complex Malaria was launched by P.W.Ingty, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Dept., Govt. of Meghalaya.
The project in Meghalaya is part of the International Centres for Excellence in Malaria Research (ICEMR) initiative, funded by the National Institutes of Health, USA. The Centre for the Study of Complex Malaria in India (CSCMi) will be established at the IIPH, Shillong under the leadership of Prof. Jane Carlton (New York University) and Prof. Sandra Albert (IIPH, Shillong). Through this centre, leading researchers from prestigious institutions from across the world such as New York University (NYU), USA, the University of Manchester, UK and senior scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will be mentoring young researchers from Meghalaya and the northeast region so that locally relevant research is done and research capacity in the state and region is strengthened.
P.W.Ingtywelcomed this important initiative and remarked that this is a "red letter day for malaria research in Meghalaya". He said that as stakeholders all the concerned officials of the Department of Health and Family Welfare should extend their full support to make the Centre's activities a success.
Dr. R. Lyngdoh,Deputy Director of Health Services (M) cum SPO, NVBDCP Meghalaya provided an overview of the malaria situation in Meghalaya. She highlighted the successful initiatives of the department that have helped in reducing malaria incidence over the past year and said that much remains to be done in bringing it down further.Among all malaria-endemic areas of Meghalaya, Garo Hills consistently suffers from the highest rates of malaria cases and deaths.
Dr. Sandra Albert, Director, Indian Institute of Public Health Shillong, highlighted the importance of research in informing policy and actions. The research undertaken by the Centre would focus on the epidemiology and clinical aspects as well as on plasmodium the causative parasite and mosquitoes that are the vectors. A special focus would be on understanding the magnitude of asymptomatic carriers of the parasite in the community; persons who carry the causative agent but does not manifest any symptoms of malaria.
Dr. Jane Carlton, Director, Centre for the Study of Complex Malaria in India & Director Centre for Genomics & Systems Biology, New York University, USA, provided an overview of CSCMi and implications for study of Malaria in Meghalaya. The Centre will develop state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and introduce new molecular and genomic technologies to identify malaria parasites and the mosquito vectors that are transmitting them. The overall goal is to develop better methodologies to control the burden of the disease in the people of Meghalaya.
Dr. Anna Maria van Eijk, Epidemiologist, New York University discussed the proposedepidemiological studies of Malaria in Meghalaya. Dr. Catherine Walton, University of Manchester, UK explained the importance of understanding mosquito diversity for malaria control in North East India. Mosquitoes are also evolving and changing and we need to be able to understand the phenomenon to better control and reduce disease burden in the future. There is an urgent need to survey the breeding habitats and to understand the biting behaviour to make the vector control more effective
Although numbers have fallen in recent months, much work still remains to be done and health teams face considerable challenges in implementing malaria control measures in the field.