• Question: Malaria has been and still a killer disease, how far have you gone with your research so as to make it a thing of the past? Explain this Mellissa

    Asked by Victor to Mel on 2 Oct 2014.
    • Photo: Melissa Kapulu

      Melissa Kapulu answered on 2 Oct 2014:

      @Victor very good question. It is the reason why I have a job today.

      Malaria is a killer disease and there have been a lot of strides in trying to reduce the number of new cases or infections and transmission. The current control interventions, insecticide treated bed nets, indoor residual insecticide sprays, have all played a huge role in bringing the cases of malaria down especially in sub-Saharan Africa. From 1.2million deaths every year reported in the early 2000s to about 600,00 deaths a year in 2013. Almost halved the death rate but there is still need for more to be done.

      So how far have I gone with my research in trying to contribute to eliminating malaria. Not that far. But we are making strides to make malaria a thing of the past. On a global scale, the first ever malaria vaccine will be licensed hopefully next year and this will help save lives at least for a year in the under 1year olds, where the disease causes more deaths. This vaccine has actually been tested in Kilifi On top of this, the use combination drug therapies has also aided the reduction in the number of deaths.

      To come back to home, Kilifi itself has seen a massive reduction in the number of malaria deaths and cases over 25years. According to the research done so far, north of Kilifi has very little malaria with about 1 or 2 cases a year but the south of Kilifi still experiences quite a number of malaria cases. This is a huge success but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in bringing the cases in the south down. So what I am working on is trying to identify how transmission occurs in the south and identifying sources of infection and targeting them with interventions. It is an interesting time to be working on malaria as the goal has now moved to eliminating malaria.

      Please let me know what you think. We all have a part to play by making sure we sleep under bed nets and seek diagnosis and proper treatment.