Fostering closer ties with Myanmar in malaria research

Burnet Institute

07 February, 2013

Burnet CEO Brendan Crabb visiting a local village near Yangon

Burnet Institute Director and CEO and world-recognised malaria researcher Professor Brendan Crabb met with representatives from the Myanmar Government’s Department of Medical Research in Yangon.

He was invited to speak to the research and clinical staff of the Department and the University of Public Health on his key areas of malaria research, which includes progress on vaccine development, new drug targets for prevention and malarial drug resistance.

Professor Crabb presented a comprehensive explanation of the physiology of malaria and its infection pathways, and the status of vaccine development, together with other interventions.

He acknowledged the considerable progress that has been made by public health measures, in particular the use of bed nets, but said that the prospects were still low for a comprehensive vaccine in the foreseeable future.

“Burnet would be keen to develop cooperation in malaria research with the Department of Medical Research which is already doing excellent work in this resource-poor, malaria affected country,” Professor Crabb said.

The Deputy Director General of the Department of Medical Research, who is also a malaria researcher, reaffirmed their commitment to pursue further links with Burnet.

“The Burnet Institute is a well-known and respected Institute and we very much appreciate your efforts in working in our country for over 10 years,” he said.

“We look forward to working in collaboration.”

Professor Crabb said that with the rapidly changing political environment in Myanmar, it was important for the Institute to strengthen its ties, especially in the areas of medical research with its counterparts in Myanmar.

“Burnet has been operating in Myanmar for more than 10 years, generally working to build the capacity of local communities to address their major health concerns. The reform in Myanmar in recent years opens up new possibilities such as applying our skills in infectious disease research to better address some key health problems.”

“It is crucial for the health of Myanmar people that solutions be found to malaria, the cause of much death and disability in Myanmar. We wish to work with key agencies in Myanmar top help them achieve this,” Professor Crabb said.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 3.3 billion people – half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. In 2010, there were about 216 million malaria cases and an estimated 655 000 malaria deaths.

Burnet Institute’s malaria program is focused in the areas of vaccine development, epidemiology, drug target identification, and prevention strategies.

The Institute has been operational in Myanmar since 2003 and has a strong commitment to building the capacity of local NGOs and other civil society groups to address public health challenges. The Institute currently has 39 Myanmar national staff based in Yangon and works with more than 50 local partners to help address issues such as maternal and child health, infectious diseases particularly HIV, sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial support, young peoples health and drug and alcohol use.

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