WANETAM trains Post-Doctoral and PhD candidates on Molecular Surveillance for Malaria elimination

A five-day molecular surveillance on malaria parasites training course was recently organised by the West African Network for Tuberculosis, AIDS and Malaria (WANETAM), for Post-Doctoral and PhD candidates from its member institutions. Held at the MRC Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MRCG at LSHTM) Fajara Campus from 27 January to 3 February 2023, it equipped participants with an understanding of the fundamental concepts and approaches in malaria molecular epidemiology and genomic surveillance.
Scientific officer during the Malaria Surveillance Training

Malaria is one of the leading causes of death in Africa, with the region accounting for 92% of all malaria cases and deaths globally according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Despite being a disease that is highly preventable and has available effective treatment mechanisms, malaria continues to severely impede the health and well-being of people across the region and around the world.

12 post-doctoral and PhD candidates from WANETAM member institutions joined as part of a 24-month training programme to build malaria clinical trial research collaboration and skills, from basic theoretical backgrounds to wet lab and bioinformatics tools for genomic surveillance of malaria.

Alfred Amambua-Ngwa, Prof of Genetic Epidemiology at LSHTM said: “The malaria research community in Africa needs advanced technologies and skills to accelerate malaria elimination programs. Democratisation of genomic surveillance will give us one more weapon for enthusiastic young scientists fighting malaria parasites across the continent.”

He added that the training specifically introduced participants to amplicon sequencing techniques and data analysis skills with Illumina and Oxford Nanopore Technology (ONT) for malaria genomic surveillance

Salimata Konaté, Post-Doctoral Candidate at the Malaria Research and Training Center (MRTC) in Mali highlighted how it aligns with her vision to contribute to eliminating malaria in Mali:

 “This equipped me with the skills I need to join the sequencing platform within my institution and contribute to widening the scope of our current study on the impact of Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention in incidences of malaria.”

The training primes participants to implement pilot projects and support collaboration, knowledge exchange, and skills transfer within and between their home institutions.

Babacarr Sambe, a post-doctoral candidate at Institut Pasteur de Dakar, said: “This will help me explore more comprehensive tools and arrive at an answer to my research questions. The new skills will also help me to participate in future molecular surveillance interventions undertaken by my institution.”

As part of its mandate, WANETAM continues to invest in building capacities to evaluate new interventions to curb and subsequently interrupt malaria transmission, by exploring molecular techniques.

 [NS1]Why is that important? Is it cutting-edge technique?

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