Malaria

Malaria is a major health and social issue. As One Against Malaria, we developed an integrated approach for innovative products and technologies

The disease

Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. There are five different types of human-infecting Plasmodium; the deadliest are Plasmodium falciparum (mostly in Africa) and Plasmodium vivax (mainly in Asia and South America). Left untreated, malaria can progress to severe illness, and even loss of life.

Today, half of the global population is at risk of malaria. In 2019, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria worldwide – over 400,000 people died from the disease, with more than 90% of cases and deaths in Africa. Malaria strikes hardest among pregnant women and children in sub-Saharan Africa. Children under five still account for almost 70% of all malaria deaths worldwide, with a child dying from the disease every two minutes.  

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Our Agenda

Despite the remarkable progress made to date, malaria remains a major health and social challenge. To defeat malaria, it’s vital to overcome issues including the emergence of drug resistance, low parasitemia levels in some populations that can be difficult to detect but act as a reservoir for the parasite, high mortality in very young children, and the impact of co-infections. In addition, new interventions and technologies have been developed and deployed, with the aim of preventing, diagnosing and treating malaria and its transmission.

We have been engaged since 2015 in the battle against this disease, with the aim of developing and providing access to innovative drugs and tools supporting prevention, diagnosis, control and elimination. As One Against Malaria, our priorities focus on developing assets to prevent infection, test and treat patients, block the transmission of malaria from and to the mosquito, and fight falsified and substandard medicines. We implement research initiatives to strengthen the resilience of health systems in the world’s most vulnerable regions;  we also define sustainable business models and use innovative access paths  to reach the patients in need with our products.    

As one against Malaria

Within the context of the ‘Malaria’ program led by our Global Health Institute, we have developed and implemented an integrated approach to drive innovation on multiple topics.  

  • comprehensive screening of compound library to identify the next generation of potential anti-malarial candidates
  • the clinical development of a New Chemical Entity M5717 as an antimalarial drug
  • the development of highly sensitive malaria diagnostics
  • the identification of new methods for personal prevention and transmission control
  • the implementation of a network of excellence on epidemiological surveillance and scientific research on malaria, in the context of educational programs in and for Africa
  • the set-up of microscopy stations and implementation of trainings to health workers in Ghana to detect cases of malaria and other blood-borne diseases
  • the development of new anti-counterfeited medicines technologies to identify fake antimalarials.

We conduct all these activities in close collaboration with national malaria control programs and key local stakeholders, mainly in African countries. Leveraging our expertise and innovative products, we contribute to strengthening research capacity and making health care systems more resilient to crisis, while creating sustainable businesses opportunities.   

World Malaria Day

World Malaria Day, marked each year on 25 April, is the occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control. Under the theme Zero Malaria – Draw the Line Against Malaria, the World Malaria Day 2021 will highlight the successes in the malaria fight since 2000, with 21 countries achieving zero malaria; inspire a new group of countries that have the potential to eliminate the disease by 2025; demonstrate that zero malaria is within reach for all countries.

For us, ZERO MALARIA STARTS with Prevention

Covid-19 pandemic showed the importance of stopping spread of infections through preventive measures.

The same is true for malaria.  Even if progress has been made, there is a need for a broader, holistic approach to eliminate malaria, focusing on prevention and integrating new tools and methodologies.  

Our insect repellent IR3535®

Preventive methods, such as the use of insect repellents, form part of our strategic tools to combat malaria. We are testing our insect repellent IR3535®, which is already used for protection against the bites of insects and ticks that can transmit diseases such as Lyme, Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya.

Together with our partners in Ghana, LivFul Inc and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, we have implemented a three-stage program that evaluates a new formulation technology for long-lasting efficacy of IR3535® in malaria and includes a community-based study. Positive results would enable IR3535® to serve not only as a preventive method for personal use, but also, on a larger scale, as a vector control method to support population-based National Malaria Control programs.  

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Who is our champion in Ghana?

“Our insect repellent IR3535® has the potential to become a key preventing tool in combatting malaria in a near future”

Delalih Manteau - Project manager, Malaria Projects, Ghana

Quote from our partner:

“Using a new long-lasting technology, STAYTEC from LivFul and the IR3535® active ingredient from Merck, KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, this partnership is on its path to get a safe and effective insect repellent into as many families as possible.  By working together and engaging with African communities, we hope to revolutionize current perception and develop greater acceptance of insect repellents as an additional preventing tool in the fight against malaria.”

Daniel Oppong, Managing Director, LivFul Africa

Pavon

The parasite Plasmodium falciparum is believed to be the main form of the disease in Africa. Through a collaborative project across Namibia, Botswana and Zambia, we have generated unprecedented research indicating the presence of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale malaria in clinically silent populations. This data demonstrates the unexpected presence of additional malaria parasites in regions planned to reach elimination soon.

Building on this, we are partnering with key institutions in Africa and have established the Pan-African Vivax and Ovale Network (PAVON), an African network of centers of excellence for epidemiological surveillance and scientific research on malaria.  

Who is our champion?

“Involving more than ten African countries, the project supports policy making and offers training to African scientists, in a collective effort to strengthen health systems to treat all forms of malaria and contribute to fortify epidemic preparedness.”

Claude Oeuvray - Head of Global Health Development Program, Global Health Institute, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Quote from our partner:

“With PAVON that involves African scientists of high repute and the Global Health Institute of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, we aim to highlight recent emergence of P. vivax in sub-Saharan Africa.  An urgent attention is indeed needed on P. vivax and the two sympatric species of P. ovale to block their transmission and truly End Malaria for Good.”

Prof. Isaac Quaye, President, Pan African Ovale and Vivax Network (PAVON), Regent University, Ghana

Laboratory Capacity in Ghana

Proper diagnosis of malaria is key to malaria elimination.

Microscopy is an essential pillar of healthcare laboratory capacity and requires continuous strengthening to ensure excellence in terms of diagnostics for several critical pathologies.  Through our collaboration with the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research at the University of Ghana, healthcare workers are trained in microscopic diagnosis to improve identification of malaria together with other pathologies.

Specifically, clinical microscopy on-line trainings and hands-on trainings will instruct students at the Noguchi Institute as well as medical technologists whose expertise and skills are critical assets to the Ghana Health Services.  

Facts

30

students to be trained in 2021

75

new lab instruments

Who is our champion?

“In line with our Sustainability Strategy, the initiative is intended to strengthen healthcare systems, thus contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

James Mulry - Head of Global Health Diagnostics, Global Health Institute, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Quote from our partner:

“It is only through collaboration with like-minded partners from both the public and private sector that the fight against malaria can be won; a perfect example of such a collaboration in this fight is evident in the Ghana Laboratory Capacity (GALAC) program”

Prof. Abraham Anang, Director Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Ghana

Recent progress in malaria control have showed that success relies on:  efficient treatment allowing to cure children and adults from symptomatic malaria, associated with reduction in exposure to mosquito bites; well-trained health professionals capable of proactive surveillance; excellent diagnostic capacities with professional microscopists; full integration of all interventions managed in conjunction with Ministries of Health and National Malaria Control Programs in endemic countries.

Our projects align with those strategic imperatives. Zero Malaria Starts with Prevention.