malERA Supplement: a research agenda for malaria eradication

Today we’re delighted to publish a Collection of 12 reviews, comprising three reflective pieces and nine research and development agendas, as part of a sponsored Supplement. The Collection comprises the output of countless hours of discussion and debate and we hope that by publishing this Collection  better transparency in defining research priorities will be achieved for malaria researchers and policymakers around the world. The articles also provide fascinating insights into what the selected malaria experts who took part agree are the priority research themes that must be tackled in order to eradicate malaria. All 12 articles were peer-reviewed, revised and considered in depth by the editorial team, and subjected to all the usual PLoS Medicine editorial processes. We would like to thank the numerous peer reviewers from inside and outside the malaria community for their detailed critiques, which helped to shape the articles, and we would also like to thank the authors for their patience in making appropriate revisions to these reviews. In particular we would like to thank Sanjeev Krishna and Bob Snow, who read all the articles and provided some informal criticisms and reviewer advice to the editorial team.

The Supplement is hosted on a PLoS Medicine Collection page, from which all 12 articles can be accessed:

More than 250 experts took part in a series of consultations coordinated by the Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA) initiative.  The introductory article by Pedro L. Alonso, CRESIB-Hospital Clínic, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain and colleagues, “A Research Agenda to Underpin Malaria Eradication” sets the malERA program in context. The nine research and development agendas define the priority research areas for eight different thematic areas including basic science and enabling technologies; drugs; vaccines; vector control; health systems and operational research; modelling; diagnoses and diagnostics; and monitoring, evaluation and surveillance. An additional paper identifies research priorities that are common to several of the thematic areas. The Collection includes an analysis from Jose Najera (formerly at the WHO, Geneva) and colleagues, of the last Global Malaria Eradication Programme (1955–1969) and outlines lessons for future eradication programs. A second analysis by Myron M. Levine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA and colleagues, examines the role research has played in eradication or elimination initiatives for smallpox, poliomyelitis, and measles and from this analysis derives nine cross-cutting lessons for malaria eradication.

Pedro L. Alonso comments: “As chair of the malERA Steering Committee, I am delighted to see published this R&D agenda for malaria eradication, after an intense and perhaps unprecedented consultative process that lasted two years and involved more than 250 of the leading scientists in the malaria field and beyond”. Marcel Tanner, Swiss Tropical Institute, Basel, Switzerland (co-chair of the malERA Steering Committee), adds: “I am confident that the definition of this set of key research and development priorities will contribute to paving the way for the ultimate goal of malaria elimination and eradication. Elimination and finally eradication are public health objectives we can not afford not to dream of. The research agenda we publish today shows the strong commitment felt within the research and scientific communities and complements the Global Action Plan for elimination/eradication”.

The Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA) initiative aimed to complement existing research agendas that are primarily aimed at reducing the global burden of morbidity and mortality due to malaria (the traditional goal of malaria control) with a set of research and development priorities that identify knowledge gaps and tools needed for worldwide eradication of malaria. This approach is complementary to that taken by the Malaria Elimination Group, headed by Sir Richard Feachem. The malERA consultation process was led by a Steering Committee composed of 14 independent scientists (chaired by Pedro L. Alonso), an International Advisory Committee (chaired by Myron M. Levine) that included veterans from eradication and elimination campaigns of both malaria and other diseases, and a Leadership Council comprising Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tadataka Yamada, President of the Global Health Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, and Dr. Awa Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board. The Supplement was produced with support from the Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA) initiative, which was funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The PLoS Medicine journal editors have sole editorial responsibility for the content of this Collection.

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