Held in honor of World Mosquito Day 2019, this webinar provided the latest updates on new malaria innovations such as vaccines and vector control tools, the progress and challenges of bringing malaria innovations to scale, and current opportunities for high-impact private sector involvement.
There were a total of 52 participants on the call representing international NGOs, academia, government organizations and companies such as Bayer, Chevron, Sanofi, Syngenta, Sumitomo, Vestergaard, Access Bank, etc. Each of the speakers delivered clear and compelling presentations on the theme of innovative new approaches to combat malaria, and how and why the private sector should utilize and support these methods.
- Ochuko Keyamo-Onyige, Nigeria Country Manager, GBCHealth/CAMA (Moderator)
- Derric Nimmo, Senior Technical Manager, IVCC
- Ashley J. Birkett, Director, PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative
- Malick Diara, Public Health Manager, ExxonMobil Corporation
- All stakeholders in the international community need to work together to address the ongoing threat of malaria
- No one approach – be it drugs, bed nets, or a vaccine is going to rid the world of malaria. We need multiple new and complimentary tools and strategies to accelerate the fight and further drive down the malaria disease burden
- A malaria vaccine used alongside bed nets, insecticide spraying, diagnostics, and drugs has the potential to further reduce the burden of disease among young children, particularly in areas of Africa with high levels of malaria transmission
- A new malaria vaccine (RTS,S) has shown promising results to date and is currently in the initial stages of a pilot study in three African countries
- Conquering diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, and Ebola, as well as illnesses caused by multidrug-resistant pathogens, requires considerable investment and a new sustainable model of vaccine development involving close collaborations between the public and private sectors
- Insecticide resistance has reached the tipping point, and we urgently need new vector control tools. There are many tools in use and development that have potential to help the fight against malaria and pyrethroid resistance
- Companies like ExxonMobil have shown that adopting innovative biotechnology can help to enhance and improve efficiency in malaria workplace programs, saving lives and increasing cost-effectiveness
- Opportunities for increased private sector support in malaria innovation include championing the importance of investments in malaria innovation both within companies and in-country; supporting existing and future interventions and tools; and utilizing networks such as CAMA to channel company interests in a targeted way, towards key decision-makers in specific areas
- Controlling, and ultimately eliminating, malaria would bring tremendous health, social, and economic benefits to people in sub-Saharan Africa and around the globe
You can watch the full presentation at this link.
Vector Control, Innovation and New Product Development
Derric Nimmo, Senior Technical Manager, IVCC
First Mr. Nimmo provided an overview of IVCC’s efforts with regards to malaria. He noted that IVCC is the only Product Development Partnership working on vector control. IVCC works by addressing market challenges, operating a scientific and product management platform, de-risking innovation to encourage development, providing expert support for the innovator community, and through its broad non-political outreach.
IVCC’s strategic framework is end-to-end product development with a primary focus on malaria eradication with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It does that by supporting the development of new innovations, enabling and supporting those innovations, and helping them deliver an impact.
He discussed pyrethroid resistance, which he says has reached a tipping point. He stressed the need for new vector controls, and described some of those that IVCC is researching and developing.
Recently IVCC has been working on the ZERO by 40 platform, a new partnership between leaders in crop protection, IVCC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a wide range of other funding partners and stakeholders who are driving towards a world free of malaria.
He then discussed the IVCC’s project to improve capacity-building in Africa, to help sites receive GLP accreditation and become self-sufficient to evaluate new tools. He also provided insight into the IVCC’s ‘Bench to Impact’ model for partnership and product development and delivery, as well as IVCC’s NgenIRS market shaping innovation that accelerates the uptake of 3rd generation IRS products.
Finally he underlined the global hope for eradicating malaria, as well as the great risk inherent in not doing enough to fight pyrethroid resistance and maintaining the gains made to date. Therefore he called for continued investment in products, innovation and getting innovative products to the market.
Dr. Ashley J. Birkett, Director, PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative
Dr. Birkett discussed the RTS,S (Mosquirix) vaccine, which is advancing into a large pilot study in three Africa countries, Kenya, Ghana and Malawi. This is the first vaccine proven effective in reducing malaria in SSA.
He provided some background on PATH and the many ways in which they work to eliminate health inequities, and then gave an overview of malaria-related goals for a world free of malaria across the next decade. He pointed out that we’re already behind in some 2020 goals, which would create a detrimental knock-on effect for the achievement of future goals.
He stressed the importance of both using existing tools as efficiently as possible, as well as supporting new tools such as RTS,S. He pointed out to not think of a malaria vaccine like a complete solution as vaccines can be in other diseases, but a complimentary tool to be used alongside other tools. He stressed PATH’s and WHO’s communications initiatives stressing that the vaccine is not a cure-all, as well as also the importance of getting all 4 doses of the vaccine, since many people think of vaccines as a one-time treatment. He showed that immunization could have higher coverage than tools like ITNs, which is an opportunity for the vaccine to have a great effect in malaria. He said RTS,S is not a big profit-driver, so it falls on the public sector to support the vaccine.
He gave an overview of a large phase 3 study which proved the potential of the vaccine to reduce malaria, preventing 4/10 cases of clinical malaria and 3/10 cases of severe malaria, as well as showing positive results in preventing malaria anemia, blood transfusions and malaria hospitalization. He also provided cost-effectiveness data that shows the RTS,S is considered to provide value for money in comparison with other vaccines.
The Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program builds on the EMA’s green light for RTS,S in 2015, and the WHO initial policy assessment in the same year where they decided to advance a pilot introduction program which will vaccinate almost 1 million children in total. The trial will generate interim data in 2021, primarily with regards to safety, and at that time the WHO should be able to make an initial policy recommendation. At the end of the pilot in 2023 there will be a follow-up assessment. He stressed the length and size of the pilot study, and the need for continued funding to help the pilot progress.
ExxonMobil Malaria Control Program – Technology Innovation for Health Impact
Dr. Malick Diara, Public Health Manager, ExxonMobil Corporation
Dr. Diara explained how and why ExxonMobil works in malaria. First, he said it’s important to protect ExxonMobil’s workers, as well as to protect communities where ExxonMobil’s business can be developed. He shared a map of ExxonMobil’s operations around the globe to underscore the importance of a global health perspective for its business.
From a workplace perspective, ExxonMobil has five main corporate health programs (for Malaria, TB, etc.), and uses the ‘ABCD’ guideline, which encompasses Awareness, Bite prevention, Compliance, and Drugs & immunization.
He says one of the reason they’ve had success in their workplace malaria program is because they adopted innovative technology – the Malaria Chemoprophylaxis Compliance Testing made available to all ExxonMobil’s employees at high risk, especially for ex-pats and non-immune people working in malaria risk zones. This rapid test developed with the French army and biotechnology companies can detect within 10 minutes whether employees are compliant. He shared that ExxonMobil has faced serious situations in the past with employees who were stricken with malaria.
The implementation of this test has been quite effective, with improved malaria chemoprophylaxis compliance, no malaria death since 2007 and >2,000 non-immune malaria cases averted. ExxonMobil has testing for Doxycycline, Proguanil and Mefloquine which are the three chemoprophylactics used, and all these tests have been rolled out at all of the company’s sites with malaria risk. ExxonMobil does between 10,000-15,000 tests per year. These new tests have helped ExxonMobil save US$3 million in lab costs, reducing costs from $80 per test to $10 per test.