University of Cape Town Receives Funding to Build Capacity for Malaria Modelling in Africa

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has received a US$3 million funding boost from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch a three-year capacity-building programme for malaria modelling in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Malaria Modelling and Analytics: Leaders in Africa (MMALA) programme is part of the foundation’s Grand Challenges Global Call-to-Action initiative that seeks to support the World Health Organization’s (WHO) goal of eliminating malaria by 2030.

The programme aims to produce malaria modellers who not only understand the science of malaria elimination, but are also able to translate this science into implementable policy and advise governments on the best way to achieve their health goals.

It will create opportunities for postgraduates through  a PhD training programme targeting applications from the Elimination 8 (E8) countries of Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as Ghana, Cameroon and Benin.

According to the programme head Associate Professor Sheetal Silal, MMALA has already received 85 applications for the PhD positions and the interview process is already under way.

 “We plan to engage the diverse community of malaria scientists – including policy makers, health economists, climate scientists and so on – to come together and contribute to a training programme for the students in the first eight months of the programme, before they start their research projects, he added.”

The first year of the programme will be largely student training focused, however, the focus of the second year will be to increase the capacity for using malaria modelling in government. To realise this capacity-building goal, MMALA will work  closely with advocacy organisations such as SADC E8 and NGOs like the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) , hopefully bringing us one step closer to a malaria-free region.

Photo courtesy/ ResearchGate

Article by Jedidah Mwangi