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Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Wolfson Fellow

Publication details for Dr Mark Booth

Ocampo, D. & Booth, M. (2016). The application of evolutionary medicine principles for sustainable malaria control: a scoping study. Malaria Journal 15(1): 383.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Background
Current interventions against malaria have significantly reduced the number of people infected and the number of deaths. Concerns about emerging resistance of both mosquitoes and parasites to intervention have been raised, and questions remain about how best to generate wider knowledge of the underlying evolutionary processes. The pedagogical and research principles of evolutionary medicine may provide an answer to this problem.

Methods
Eight programme managers and five academic researchers were interviewed by telephone or videoconference to elicit their first-hand views and experiences of malaria control given that evolution is a constant threat to sustainable control. Interviewees were asked about their views on the relationship between practit groups and academics and for their thoughts on whether or not evolutionary medicine may provide a solution to reported tensions.

Results
There was broad agreement that evolution of both parasites and vectors presents an obstacle to sustainable control. It was also widely agreed that through more efficient monitoring, evolution could be widely monitored. Interviewees also expressed the view that even well planned interventions may fail if the evolutionary biology of the disease is not considered, potentially making current tools redundant.

Conclusions
This scoping study suggests that it is important to make research, including evolutionary principles, available and easily applicable for programme managers and key decision-makers, including donors and politicians. The main conclusion is that sharing knowledge through the educational and research processes embedded within evolutionary medicine has potential to relieve tensions and facilitate sustainable control of malaria and other parasitic infections.