The Art and Science of the Fight Against Malaria
The latest World Malaria Report shows that progress has stalled in the global fight against malaria since 2015, hitting a plateau in the last three years. The African continent, which bears 93% of the global malaria burden, seems to have been particularly impacted, with data showing that annual malaria case numbers in sub-Saharan Africa have remained unchanged at 230 million in the past 5 years. In the face of growing drug and insecticide resistance, research into new tools that could complement existing efforts is needed in order to sustain hard fought gains and ensure this preventable and treatable disease becomes a thing of the past.
Target Malaria is a global research consortium which includes 11 institutions spread across 7 different countries, all working together to co-develop new genetic approaches to malaria control that can be complementary to current vector control efforts. As genetic approaches are still novel and research in this area is complex, fostering an informed debate around these issues is crucial.
Emerging Ag helps bridge the gap between the scientific community at Target Malaria and the general public by supporting its communication and stakeholder engagement strategies. We provide a suite of services for the global consortium including, but not limited to, devising strategies and annual workplans for the project, managing media relations, digital accounts and campaigns, providing messaging and content development services, coordinating teams across institutions and delivering stakeholder engagement advice and support. We also partner with groups across malaria and gene drive issues and offer expert advice and training to Target Malaria teams globally (public speaking, media interviews, communications theory and strategy).
Following disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the training support usually provided by our team was forced to move online. As part of this switch, and in order to more efficiently cater for the demands of a global team, Emerging Ag developed two new e-learning training courses for Target Malaria.
The first is an “Introduction to Communications” for the project which explores strategies for effective communication and communication tools. We designed 6 modules of virtual content, including tailored videos, quizzes and written exercises, aimed at improving trainees’ communication skills as well as their knowledge of malaria and the project’s approach to reducing transmission of the disease.
The second e-learning course that was developed is focused on “Stakeholder Engagement Approaches and Practices”. This provides an overview of project’s engagement activities and how they are carried out. Similar in format to the first, this will help project members familiarise themselves with how stakeholder engagement for the project is structured and best practices in the field.
Both these trainings were developed on Imperial College’s virtual Learning Management System, Blackboard, with the use of the video platform Panopto. They will be deployed by each of the different Target Malaria teams and ensure all of the global team members are up to date with the project’s communication and stakeholder engagement strategies.
Emerging Ag is proud to be able to play its part in the fight against malaria by providing communication and engagement support to Target Malaria. Working with Target Malaria allows Emerging Ag to bring to bear its expertise in the field of biotechnology, development and innovation. We are excited to be helping Target Malaria along its development pathway and hope the project will succeed in developing a complementary technology to help reduce malaria transmission. The history of the fight against malaria has taught us that malaria is a complex disease, requiring not one but a series of complementary approaches. If we are to defeat it, we must unite efforts at both the community and global level.