My blogs

Jan '14: What should we do: Peer review or not?

The science world is undergoing rapid changes, and so does the field of scientific publishing. The Lancet recently featured five articles on the current value and reduction of waste in biomedical research. An article in the Economist from a few months before titled 'How science goes wrong' is another eye-opener. Clearly, much is changing in the science world, and this includes us scientists working on malaria...­blog/­what-should-we-do-peer-review-or-not

Nov '13: How to improve manuscript reviewing?

MalariaWorld as of today has 8102 registered members. We continuously check the validity of your email address to make sure that we remain connected with you, so you and 8101 other subscribers receive the MalariaWorld newsletter every single week of the year. This November we celebrated our fourth year of providing services to you. This was also a time to once more review our progress, including the progress we are making with the MalariaWorld Journal. The journal is now in its 4th volume and it is maturing, but we identified some real difficulties, one of which I want to bring to your attention here: manuscript reviewing...­blog/­how-improve-manuscript-reviewing

Sept '13: A must-see: Sonia Shah about malaria (TED)

It is not very often that we see a talk exclusively on malaria at a global TED event. And now there is a new one. Anyone that has an interest in malaria by now should have heard about Sonia Shah. She wrote the excellent book 'The Fever' in 2010, a book that received praise around the world. Shah has now condensed the book in a 15 minute talk. She does so in a simple yet authorative manner that is clear even to someone that has never heard about malaria...­blog/­must-see-sonia-shah-about-malaria-ted

Jun '13: Paying authors for Open Access publishing: Open Access 3.0?

This week I wrote on MalariaWorld about the constant email spamming by publishers to submit our manuscripts to them. After receiving yet another invitation today, this time from HINDAWI publisher (who constantly nag me by the way) I started thinking about the future of Open Access. When we started the MalariaWorld Journal, we wanted a journal with a focus on malaria where you don't pay to publish and don't pay to read, which we termed Open Access 2.0. The reasons for this were outlined in my other article this week but here I want to take this a step further and ask a simple question...why should we scientists, who have worked hard to get grants, do the science, analyse the data, and write up manuscripts pay for our work to be published by a publisher that wants to make profits? So perhaps it is time for Open Access 3.0?­blog/­paying-authors-open-access-publishing-open-access-30

Jun '13: Spam: 'We invite you to submit an article to our Open Access journal'

Every week I receive several emails from publishers that invite me to submit an article to their journal. I am convinced that the same happens to many of you as well. Frankly, I am getting very tired of this - the reason why this happens is not that these journals are approaching us because of what we do or who we are. It is all about money. Under the umbrella of 'our journal is Open Access' publishers have found a new way to generate income by lobbying hard for our manuscripts. For which of course we need to pay to get them published. Today I received another invitation from MDPI AG Publishers (Basel, Switzerland) which triggered me to do a bit of research...­blog/­spam-we-invite-you-submit-article-our-open-access-journal

May '13: Eliminating malaria in a world in turmoil

Many of us work in laboratories where we study the intricacies of malaria. Where we study parasites and mosquitoes and where we develop new approaches that hopefully one day will help to reduce the malaria burden. Few of us, however, have worked in the trenches to combat malaria in the real world out there. Even fewer of us have dared to venture into places that are torn apart by civil unrest or war and do something about malaria there. We know of organisations like Doctors without Borders (MSF) but there are also people out there that risk their lives to accomplish nothing more exciting than to distribute bednets and anti-malarial drugs in remote parts of Africa that are at best unsafe...­blog/­eliminating-malaria-world-turmoil

Apr '13: World Malaria Day: Sign the petition against counterfeit malaria drugs

As a malaria professional, you are probably aware of the unfolding tragedy with counterfeit drugs. Either completely fake (drugs containing nothing more than chalk, washing powder, or even brake fluid) or substandard (not containing enough active ingredient) or outdated drugs are flooding the African market on an ever-increasing scale...­blog/­world-malaria-day-sign-petition-against-counterfeit-malaria-drugs

Apr '13: Harvard's Jessica Cohen: 'Zanzibar gains could be erased in months'

Harvard University organised a mini-symposium on malaria on 5 April titled 'Defeating malaria, from the genes to the globe'. It was the first in a series examining global public health problems like malaria. Noteworthy in that regard are the views that were expressed during this symposium regarding the malaria situation on Zanzibar. Assistant Professor Jessica Cohen, who reportedly advised the government of Zanzibar on how to move forward with its fight against malaria made some pretty remarkable statements...­blog/­harvards-jessica-cohen-zanzibar-gains-could-be-erased-months

Mar '13: 1950s strategy to control malaria on Zanzibar fails once more

Four years ago, in 2009, I wrote an article for a Dutch newspaper (Bionieuws) with the title 'It is not yet time for a party on Zanzibar'. My article was a response to Tachi Yamada's blog on CNN 'Where have all the malaria patients gone?'. Yamada at that time was touring the spice island together with Ray Chambers and Margret Chan, and for sure their trip must have been pleasant and satisfying...­blog/­1950s-strategy-control-malaria-zanzibar-fails-once-more

Mar '13: Ray Chambers: Saving The Lives Of 4 Million Children In 1,000 Days

In a blog on LinkedIn yesterday, Ray Chambers, the Special Envoy for Malaria to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, sent out a public statement titled 'Saving the lives of 4 million children in 1000 days'. Making reference to the fact that the Millennium Development Goals end by December 2015, Chambers still holds the conviction that we can bring malaria mortality down to zero by the end of 2015...­blog/­ray-chambers-saving-lives-4-million-children-1000-days

Mar '13: Look at this before you start to work in the lab today...

This morning I opened the newspaper and read about the breakthrough in science that we now have the complete biochemical 'routemap' of man, us. A few days ago I read an article about rats being capable of training other rats through electrical brain signals. Scientific developments are ongoing at an unprecedented speed - we live in exciting times.­blog/­look-you-start-work-lab-today

Feb '13: Has America forgotten its heroes?

This week I attended the 79th annual meeting of the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA), which was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. I was honoured to be invited to give a keynote lecture on the first day of the meeting, with the title 'If Gates gave you 10 million for mosquito research, what would you do with it?'. Steve Mulligan, vice president of the AMCA, in charge of the scientific programme of the meeting asked me to touch on the importance of 'out-of-the-box' science and the need that we have to come forward with radical and transformational new ideas to control vectors of disease.­blog/­has-america-forgotten-its-heroes

Feb '13: Six new ways to control malaria mosquitoes

It is well known that creative thinking is affected by environmental variables. That's why researchers engage in 'off-site' events. Take them out of their comfort zone of the lab or office and miracles may happen. I am in Pangani, Tanzania, as I write this. Sitting amongst the palm trees overlooking the Indian ocean at Emayani Beach Lodge run by my brother. Thinking back about last week, when we had a kick-off meeting with 14 scientists and entrepreneurs in Ifakara, hosted by the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI). Although this year marks my 20th anniversary of working with IHI, quite a few of us were new to IHI, new to Tanzania, or even new to Africa...­blog/­six-new-ways-control-malaria-mosquitoes

Jan '13: Are you a Rotarian working on malaria?

I have been a member of Rotary International for the past three years. During that time I have met several people working on malaria that are also Rotarians. Rotary International is heavily engaged in the polio eradication campaign (through its international campaign 'End polio now' and has been instrumental in getting polio vaccination underway in the 1980s when the disease was still rampant.­blog/­are-you-rotarian-working-malaria

Jan '13: Video: "House improvement will bring malaria elimination in Africa two decades forward"

The video below is an interview with Dr. Jo Lines posted online two weeks ago. Dr. Lines is currently with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine again after several years of serving the World Health Organization in Geneva. He has been one of the frontline people in the science surrounding insecticide-treated bednets, and later in advocacy and uptake of this simple technology that has saved an estimated 1 million lives over the past decade. A remarkable achievement no doubt. Have a look...­blog/­video-house-improvement-will-bring-malaria-elimination-africa-two-decades-forward

Jan '13: Is it worth dying for Open Access: A tribute to Aaron Swartz

Six days ago, on January 11, Aaron Swartz committed suicide. As a malariologist you may not know who he was (I also had not heard of him to be honest), and that's why I pay tribute to him here. Aaron's extraordinary life, during which he mobilised millions of people around the world to fight for freedom on the web and free access to information, amongst many other accomplishments, ended too soon (read about him here). Why he committed suicide remains unknown, but he was charged with a 35 years sentence to prison and a 1 million dollar fine, for downloading several million scientific articles from the JSTOR database. Articles for which he had in mind to make them publicly available to the world. Because he believed that scientific information needs to be available to those that can make good use of it and should not be locked behind paywalls. At MalariaWorld we believe the same. But was it worth dying for this cause?­blog/­it-worth-dying-open-access-tribute-aaron-swartz

Dec '12: A wake-up call for all of us

Last week showed unambiguously that unless the world pulls up its sleeves, the hard-won gains of the last decade may go up in smoke. 'The world' in the previous sentence is you, us, all of us engaged as professionals in the field of malaria. MalariaWorld has put out warning signals over the last three years, about the problems with drug resistance, about artemisinin resistance in SE Asia and the risk of it escaping to other parts of the world, about impregnated bednets being shipped to parts of Africa where full-blown resistance against pyrethroids occurs, about counterfeit drugs undermining curative treatment and increasing the risk of resistance popping up, about the difficulties of vivax elimination, about the problems with zoonotic malaria, about...the list is endless I'm afraid...­blog/­wake-call-all-us

Dec '12: LG Electronics guilty of 'counterfeit vector control'?

The BBC published an article on the myths of mosquito repellers based on ultrasounds following articles on MalariaWorld. Amazingly, in spite of the massive evidence that is there to show that ultrasounds do nothing to repel mosquitoes, the electronics giant LG has started to market an air conditioner in Nigeria that incorporates ultrasound. The company published a news release titled 'LG fights malaria in Nigeria with hi-tech air conditioner'...­blog/­update-lg-electronics-guilty-counterfeit-vector-control

Dec '12: It’s the most wonderful time of the year…is it still?

Every year in December, the global malaria community eagerly awaits the World Malaria Report published by the World Health Organization. Every year countries around the world report their status of the disease, and year after year over the last decade the World Malaria Report was like a Christmas gift. Our collective efforts were paying off, both mortality and morbidity was on the decline, and scaling up of the tools yielded what we expected: A massive reduction in malaria. But this year’s end is different…­blog/­it%E2%80%99s-most-wonderful-time-year%E2%80%A6is-it-still

Dec '12: Rob MacLennan: Jury voted with their 'gut'

Yesterday, BBC's William Kremer published an excellent article about the myths surrounding ultrasounds as repellents against mosquitoes. We both talked many times about these myths and he researched the matter thoroughly. Nothing but praise for this piece of great journalism. But for us here at MalariaWorld the story isn't over yet, because the Cannes Lions Festival is simply waiting for the media storm to blow over and then move on with business as usual...­blog/­rob-maclennan-jury-voted-their-gut

Oct '12: Mercedes-Benz should win Cannes creativity award!

In July I was approached by a Dutch radio station that brought a most interesting YouTube video to my attention. It features an award winning idea by Go Outside magazine (based in Brazil), this being the 'Repellent radio'. It was created by the Sao Paulo-based advertising agency Talent, and it won the Radio Grand Prix award 2012 at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Take a look...­blog/­mercedes-benz-should-win-cannes-creativity-award

Sep '12: The case for Open Access

For most of us, it’s entirely logical that medical practitioners should be familiar with the latest scientific knowledge and evidence-based practices in order to treat ailments. This forms our fundamental basis of trust in medical professionals. If your doctor suggests a CT scan or drug X, you follow that advice on the basis of trust. So how would you feel if your doctor confesses that he lacks the latest scientific information about your condition?­blog/­case-open-access

Aug '12: Margaret Heffernan: A must see for all MW subscribers!

I am not sure if at all you are familiar with TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, with its motto 'Ideas worth spreading'. I love to watch these talks, they inspire me, provide energy, and are often fun to watch.

Yesterday I watched the talk by Margaret Heffernan with the title 'Dare to disagree'. This is a very interesting talk and it made me think of the world of malaria. First, have a look at what she has to say...­blog/­margaret-heffernan-must-see-all-mw-subscribers

Jun '12: Is the bednet era coming to an end?

Whenever I teach on the history of malaria, I talk about the different time periods when certain ideas were fashionable and implemented, and then disappeared, and sometimes came back much later. Take the 'chloroquine era'. Discovered by Bayer scientists in the early 1930s and saved millions of lives around the globe, followed by resistance popping up in SE Asia and Colombia in the late 1950s. Resistance spreading to Africa in the late 1970s, and its use now largely reduced. End of the 'chloroquine era'.­blog/­bednet-era-coming-end

Jun '12: Improving the vector control innovation process

Insecticide resistance and the limits of our current vector control tools threaten our global progress against vector-borne diseases. Innovative vector control tools are therefore urgently needed, but some technical, financial and programmatic barriers may hinder innovation. In October 2011, a gathering of stakeholders including individuals from IVCC, WHO, donor institutions, industry, and other partners issued a joint call for a mapping of the current process to introduce new vector control tools for public health and the need to identify the challenges faced today in this process.­blog/­improving-vector-control-innovation-process

May '12: Amazing statements by leading malariologists

Last week, publication of the WHO report on insecticide resistance did not go unnoticed. It was taken up by the journal Nature, and in a news article by Amy Maxmen some truly remarkable statements by some of the leading malaria researchers are to be found. I trust that these people saw the article and gave consent to its publication, so any quote in it must really have come from them. Be prepared...­blog/­amazing-statements-leading-malariologists

May '12: Winston Hide's courageous move

This week the associate editor of the Elsevier journal Genomics resigned from this position, because he could no longer accept the inability of scientists in developing countries not having access to full-text articles. I write about this, and announce here at the same time that Hide's action triggered me to resign from my position as editorial board member of Acta Tropica (another Elsevier journal).­blog/­winston-hides-courageous-move

May '12: Can we maintain effectiveness of the tools?

This week a WHO report was released, on the seriousness of insecticide resistance threatening the fight against malaria. In this blog I write about this matter, and wonder why history keeps repeating itself.­blog/­can-we-maintain-effectiveness-tools

Apr '12: WHO's interim position statement on larviciding for malaria control in Africa

Last week, WHO published a statement regarding the potential of larviciding for malaria control in Africa. This followed the circulation of a draft version of the statement in August 2011. That draft was sent to a limited group of people (how many I don't know) for comments (including myself). I attach the official version to this editorial.­blog/­whos-interim-position-statement-larviciding-malaria-control-africa

Feb '12: We thought we were down to 655.000 deaths in 2010, right?

Year after year in December we're seeing the fruits of our collective efforts to combat malaria reflected in the 'World Malaria Report' series produced by the World Health Organisation. And in those reports, year after year, we saw progression in terms of falling numbers of deaths. But today we're confronted with a harsh reality - the figures that were presented to us were off. Way off.­blog/­we-thought-we-were-down-655000-deaths-2010-right

Jan '12: The last 'Last week at MalariaWorld' of 2011...a special message for you.

Behind the scenes at MalariaWorld, we keep a close eye on where our site visitors originate from. Nothing secretive (and we don't see names, so do not worry!), it's just Google analytics that I receive every single week.­blog/­last-last-week-malariaworld-2011a-special-message-you

Dec '11: Book Review: Integrated Vector Management, by Graham Matthews.

When around the world discussions are ongoing on how best to sustain successes in malaria control gained over the last decade, particularly in the African region, this book by Emeritus Professor Graham Matthews comes as a welcome volume to put things into perspective.­blog/­book-review-integrated-vector-management-graham-matthews

Oct '11: WHO: Zero malaria deaths by 2015 was 'wildly ambitious goal' .

Today Roll Back Malaria published a 'Leadership Interview' with Dr. Newman, Director of WHO's Global Malaria Programme and Mr. Brandling-Bennett, Deputy Director of the malaria programme at the Gates Foundation. For the full interview, see here. This interview marks an important development: WHO declares that the Millennium Development Goal's target of zero deaths by the year 2015 'was a wildly ambitious goal'. Are we seeing the first cracks in the promises made at the beginning of this millennium?­blog/­who-zero-malaria-deaths-2015-was-wildly-ambitious-goal

Oct '11: Malaria can be eliminated from Africa.

A perspective article carrying the above title appeared in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene this month. As it was freely accessible I have taken the liberty to attach it to this editorial (hoping the publisher will not come after me...) for those of you that have not seen it. In it, Carlos Campbell and Rick Steketee inject encouragement into all of us that we have made substantial gains in the battle against malaria over the last decade, and that with the same relentlessness we may actually succeed in wiping the scourge off the continent. The article is a pleasant read when one starts up the computer and reads this first thing in the morning...­blog/­malaria-can-be-eliminated-africa

Sep '11: Open Access 2.0: Power in our own hands!

When students embark on research in the field of malaria they receive a pile of published articles from their supervisors to bring them up to speed. Great papers in Nature and Science, and students, for sure, hope that one day their names will appear in the list of authors on an article in one of these journals. Remember that feeling? I sure do. And did. But the world is changing...­blog/­open-access-20-power-our-own-hands

Aug '11: Should we start a training course for journalists?

The past few weeks have been good for the press when it gets to malaria. First they discovered what many of us knew all along: that resistance to pyrethroids is on the rise and may jeopardise the usefulness of LLINs. Then they marvelled at the 'outbreak' in Greece, where six were diagnosed with P. vivax malaria without ever having left the country. And this week's high is the story that mosquito numbers in Africa are dropping for some mysterious reason. The more money that goes into malaria research, the more scientists are coming out with remarkable findings, and the press gulps it up and make the stories ever more gripping. Which I understand...­blog/­should-we-start-training-course-journalists

Aug '11: What makes new tools become mainstream?

As I write the title of this editorial I know that I don’t have the answer to it. But it is an issue that is a lot on my mind these days. Let me tell you why...­blog/­what-makes-new-tools-become-mainstream

Jul '11: Waking up in the face of resistance?

Sometimes you come across articles that blow your mind. You read them and feel your heartbeat increasing. Each sentence you finish makes you wonder more what is going on here. What the politics are, who's really behind it, and what the goal of it is....­blog/­waking-face-resistance

Jun '11: Book: The Moses of malaria

The book 'The Moses of Malaria', authored by Dr. Jan Peter Verhave, which was published recently by Erasmus Publishing in The Netherlands (find more information here), is all about the life and work of Professor Nicolaas Swellengrebel (1885-1970), beyond doubt one of the most important and influential scientists of 20th Century Holland.­blog/­book-moses-malaria

May '11: ACTs: What will happen when the cat gets out of the bag?

Most of us that have worked in the field of malaria for a few decades have gone through periods where we suddenly noticed changes in drug policy. When chloroquine was replaced by sulfadoxine-pyremethamine as a first-line drug, later to be replaced by artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs).But the world is now faced with a new challenge. That of preventing artemisinin resistance from escaping south-east Asia. Without anything to replace it (yet), this is a looming catastrophe, according to Joel Breman in an interview with It may still be confined to the Thai-Cambodia border, although nobody really nows have far it has spread.­blog/­acts-what-will-happen-when-cat-gets-out-bag

Apr '11: Entomopathogenic fungi against the malaria vector Anopheles funestus: PhD thesis Dr. Joel Mouatcho

Dec '10: Elimination and the risk of malaria coming back afterwards

This week a 31 year-old woman living in Jacksonville, Florida, got infected with the most deadly form of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum. Just weeks ago a similar report came from Spain, where indigenous transmission occurred and led to the first case of malaria since 1961.­blog/­elimination-and-risk-malaria-coming-back-afterwards

Nov '10: E-interview with Prof. Brian Greenwood (UK, 1938)

Brian Greenwood is Professor of Clinical Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK. From 2001 -2009 he directed the Gates Malaria Partnership which supported a programme of research and capacity development in many countries in Africa directed at improving treatment and prevention of malaria. In 2008, he became director of a new capacity development initiative supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Malaria Capacity Development Consortium (MCDC), which operates a post-graduate malaria training programme in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and he also directs a new consortium (MenAfriCar) established with support from the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to study meningococcal carriage in Africa.­blog/­e-interview-prof-brian-greenwood-uk-1938

Nov '10: A green alternative for adult malaria mosquito control: How long to go?

It was announced yesterday that the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) will receive another 50 million USD to develop new public health insecticides. By 2020 it hopes to add three new active ingredients to the public health pesticide toolbox. That will then be a total of 100 million dollars for 3 new active ingredients. Finding new insecticides and bringing these to the market is an expensive business...
And of course, extensive use of chemical insecticides in mosquito control has caused a rapid spread of insecticide-resistance, which is threatening the effectiveness of current malaria interventions. Pretty obvious then that you start the search for new insecticides, so it seems.­blog/­green-alternative-adult-malaria-mosquito-control-how-long-go

Sep '10: Vestergaard-Frandsen and MalariaWorld support Kenyan children's home

In June I was invited to take part in a discussion forum on global health in Breda, The Netherlands. Following my talk on malaria I was approached by a lady called Thea Bekkers, who got my attention with a gripping story about an orphanage in Kenya that she supports.­blog/­vestergaard-frandsen-and-malariaworld-support-kenyan-childrens-home

Aug '10: Killing Me Softly: The Hippie Approach To Malaria

The hottest debate on TH!NK3 so far surrounded the use of the world’s most controversial pesticide: DDT. In itself, that discussion could form the basis for a book (who knows, I may write one after TH!NK3 is over). One of the minimal points of concensus that were to be found was that alternatives to DDT are needed. The sooner the better. Well, here it comes. And I will also tell you why it hasn’t been developed to the level where full-scale production and implementation has become reality.­think3/­post/­killing_me_softly_the_hippie_approach_to_malaria

Aug '10: Victory: Nigeria no longer needs matches!

Health remains, undoubtedly, one of the cornerstones of development. So often though, we read about poor health and misery in impoverished nations around the world, and look the other way. We despair, and chunks of society in the West have given up. ‘No hope for Africa’ is what you hear time and again.
Well, read on.­think3/­post/­victory_nigeria_no_longer_needs_matches

Aug '10: E-interview with Dr. William Jobin (USA, 1938)

Dr. Jobin has been a very active member of MalariaWorld over the last seven months. Time to interview him and get some feedback on his views regarding malaria control and elimination in Africa.­blog/­e-interview-dr-william-jobin-usa-1938

Aug '10: Book: Olfaction in vector-host interactions

This is a book authored by 37 experts in this field with a focus on the role of olfaction (the sense of smell) in the multitude of interactions between arthropods and their blood hosts. Half the book deals with malaria vectors, from basic lab studies to open field research on odour-mediated behaviour. The book provides a state-of-the-art account of research in this field.­blog/­book-olfaction-vector-host-interactions

Aug '10: DFID ready to receive your views on how to tackle malaria

It doesn't happen often that the broader community is requested to shape the direction taken by development organisations. But here is your chance. DFID is consulting anyone interested in malaria to help shape their business plan on how to combat malaria better.­blog/­dfid-ready-receive-your-views-how-tackle-malaria

Jul '10: E-interview with Dr. Badria El-Sayed (Sudan, 1969)

Dr. El-Sayed is currently working at the Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRI) in Khartoum, Sudan where she leads the malaria research group. She is responsible for managing malaria research projects, availing national and international financial support for research activities, seeking financial and technical support for rehabilitation and capacity building of the laboratories.­blog/­e-interview-dr-badria-el-sayed-sudan-1969

Jul '10: China clashes with the West over the battle against malaria

Yesterday morning, my office received a phonecall from Geneva. It was Doctors without Borders (MSF) that requested us to send out a corrective statement to the global malaria community via our platform (MalariaWorld) regarding inaccurate information that was distributed by the Chinese company Artepharm.­think3/­post/­china_clashes_with_the_west_over_the_battle_against_malaria

Jul '10: Science: When Promises Aren’t Met

Next to me lies a book published in 1992. It is titled: ‘Malaria: Waiting for the vaccine’. That’s eighteen years ago, but vaccination against malaria is still not a reality. It has proven very difficult to develop a potent and effective vaccine against the Plasmodium parasite. At present, a huge trial, across several African countries and involving sixteen thousand children, is underway. The RTS,S vaccine is perhaps the magic bullet we’ve been waiting for all this time. Here I am touching on the issue of promises. Promises that are being made as part of the game we call scientific endeavour. Exploring the unknown to stumble upon something that provides a cure for mankind’s worst diseases.­think3/­post/­science_when_promises_arent_met

Jul '10: Medicines that kill

Akinye developed a high fever overnight. At only three years of age, her little body was shaking badly, and her mother had difficulty comforting her. There was little more she could do then to cool the child’s head with a little water. Luke-warm water from a clay pot in the corner of the hut. She would have to wait until dawn as it was unsafe to walk the seventeen kilometres to the dispensary during darkness. When the sun finally ascended over the tree line she set out through the forest, carrying Akinye on her back. In a fold of her kanga she carried the few remaining shillings she’d earned last week with selling cassava on the village market. Exhausted but relieved, she reached the clinic almost two hours later. Indeed, as she had feared, Akinye was diagnosed to suffer from malaria. A nurse then gave her a small envelop with anti-malaria tablets, for which she paid.­think3/­post/­medicines_that_kill

Jul '10: Thank you, Cheryl

27-Year old singer Cheryl Cole grabbed the headlines yesterday when it surfaced that she contracted malaria. Thank you, Cheryl. Although I feel sorry for her, there is a good side to seeing superstars go down with disease, as it makes the world think for just a second about that disease. Better still if this is a disease of the developing world, like malaria.­think3/­post/­thank_you_cheryl

Jun '10: DDT: Sniffing Out Excellent White Powder

No, no, it’s not that white stuff. It’s that other white powder. The one that makes some of us go mad with anger, whilst others relentlessly defend its use. That some claim will give you breast cancer, whilst others say you can drink and inhale it without any harm. That some claim will destroy our environment, whilst others oppose by saying it will save millions of lives.­think3/­post/­sniffing_out_excellent_white_powder

Jun '10: Publishing in 2010: Are we ready for Open Access 2.0?

If you work as a malaria researcher, you publish your work in professional magazines. To inform your colleagues around the world about your findings. And the higher (in terms of impact factor) the journal you publish in, the more your work will be valued. But what's more important, the contribution of the work towards solving the malaria problem or a high impact factor?­blog/­publishing-2010-are-we-ready-open-access-20

Jun '10: When a shovel is enough to do the job...

Yesterday I gave a talk for the Dialogues house in Amsterdam, which is affiliated to the ABN-AMRO Bank. The audience consisted of people that have no background or experience in malaria. But something funny happened there...­blog/­when-shovel-enough-do-job

Jun '10: The Power of WWW: You Are What You Know

Elodie Kibweme was a fourth-year medical student at the Omar Bongo University in Libreville, Gabon. She wanted to specialise in malaria research and particularly in drug resistance. Being highly motivated and energetic she devoured the few outdated books on the subject in the library, and then started visiting the local Internet Café close to the University on a weekly basis.­think3/­post/­you_are_what_you_know

Jun '10: War…Huh! What Is It Good For? Absolutely something!

For those of you that do not know the classic anti-war protest song by Edwin Starr that was released during the Vietnam war, have a look first. It ain’t hard to be convinced that war is good for absolutely nothing. I agree. During my high school days I wore a peace sign button on my coat. And although it is gone now, I am still a pacifist. So if you got worried after reading this blog title, don’t. I am still on your side.­think3/­post/­warhuh._what_is_it_good_for_absolutely_something

Jun '10: How I Removed Malaria From 12.6 km2 of Sudan

In February 2004 I was charged with a challenging mission to Sudan.To travel up north in the Saharan desert, find malaria mosquitoes there, and bring them back alive to Austria. I know this sounds crazy, but that’s what medical entomologists like myself do. We needed those mosquitoes for research purposes. The journey from Khartoum to Dongola took us the whole day. Through a landscape void of water. The further north we drove, the less vegetation I saw. When the air-conditioning in our battered project vehicle gave up, it became unbearable within minutes. Outside temperature soared over 45 degrees. Sweat evaporated from my skin before I could see it.­think3/­post/­how_i_removed_malaria_from_12.6_km2_of_sudan

May '10: The Man Who Saved Brazil

She sniffed land. And decided to leave the ship. Found her way to the nearest pool of water. And dumped the egg load she’d been developing whilst travelling across the Atlantic Ocean. This mosquito sparked what would later become known as one of history’s most remarkable triumphs against tropical diseases. She came from Dakar, Senegal, West Africa. Picked up the scent of a soldier sleeping in a cabin on a French marine ship, gorged on his blood, and remained as a stow-away there during the five-day trip to Brazil. Her name: Anopheles arabiensis, a notorious transmitter of malaria in most of sub-Saharan Africa.­think3/­post/­the_man_who_saved_brasil

May '10: Good Rats

Yesterday, from my window, I saw a rat running across our backyard. Rats have a tough life. Nobody likes them. We hate them, poison them, kill them in whatever way we can. At best, rats belong in our sewage system. Rats bring diseases like the plague, they eat our harvest and cause hunger. They’re vermin - basta.But now I felt sorry for the rat in my garden and did not even tell my wife about it. She might have asked me to go outside and kill it, which I no longer will do. Not now, not in future. Because I have started to like rats.­think3/­post/­good_rats

May '10: How To Make The MDGs Stick

Type ‘Millennium Development Goals’ in Google and the journey starts. It is likely that most TH!NKers will have made this their starting point to find inspiration and background information for their blogs. With this being the 500th blog, we’re not doing bad at all. But my web journey wasn’t what I expected. Swamped in bulky UN reports that use complex language page after page I quickly realised how little of the lengthy descriptions I struggled through actually stuck in my head. And that is worrying when you take into account that I spent three years working for the UN.­think3/­post/­how_to_make_the_mdgs_stick

May '10: Whose MDGs are they anyway?

As I stroll the streets of Tanzania's capital city Dar es Salaam I see people from all walks of life struggling to make a living. Young boys wiggle their way through traffic jams to sell a bar of soap or a cigarette lighter. Underpants, brooms, you name it. Anything to make the few shillings that will carry them over to the next day without starving. At a traffic light I see a man without legs. He sits there patiently waiting for coins to be thrown at him from airconditioned 4x4 vehicles waiting for the light to turn green and dash off. Ironically, the small street vendors and handicapped are the lucky ones. Most of the people just sit in the shade under a tree and do nothing. They belong to the mass of unemployed Tanzanians of which the precise number remains unknown.­think3/­post/­whose_mdgs_are_they_anyway

Apr '10: Stuck In A Pyramid of Needs

When studying for my MBA a few years ago, I came across Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model of personal development. It was an eye-opener to use this model in the context of the ‘developing world’. Clare’s blog on personal development triggered me to table it here as it helps to understand the myriad of complexities that has surfaced in the first 400 articles TH!NK3 has yielded so far. Here it is.­think3/­post/­stuck_in_a_pyramid_of_needs

Apr '10: Malaria: Greenpeace’s tough dilemmas

“We campaign for the elimination of toxic chemicals, for nuclear disarmament and an end to nuclear contamination, and against the release of genetically modified organisms into nature” said Gerd Leipold, when he was appointed as International Executive Director of Greenpeace in 2001. A glance at the movement’s website shows that these issues still dominate its agenda.Now compare this with three ways to control malaria mosquitoes: DDT, genetically-modified mosquitoes, and the Sterile Insect Technique, and you will see why Greenpeace faces some tough dilemmas.­think3/­post/­malaria_greenpeaces_dilemmas

Apr '10: When a killer disease strikes, what do you do?

The West Nile virus originates from Central Africa and was first detected in the jungle of Uganda in 1937 in a young woman suffering terribly on the floor of her mud-walled house with grass thatch roof. If this reminds you of the opening scenes of blockbuster movie 'Outbreak' with Dustin Hoffman you get the picture.­think3/­post/­when_a_killer_disease_strikes_what_do_you_do1

Apr '10: Malaria: Can science cripple development?

Surely not, right? Being a scientist my first response is ‘Of course not!’. Hasn’t Flemming’s discovery of penicillin saved millions of lives around the globe? What would our healthcare look like without centuries of scientific endeavour? There is, regretfully, another angle to this…­think3/­post/­can_science_cripple_development

Apr '10: If you do what you did, you get what you got

On 6 May 2010, whilst on duty travel in Tanzania, I visited the island of Zanzibar where I had the pleasure to meet with the Permanent Secretary of Health, Dr. Mohamed Jiddawi. He features in the video below. Dr. Jiddawi is a well-known and respected urologist, and admitted honestly and frankly when we sat down to discuss the malaria situation on Zanzibar that he is not a malariologist. I only had one question for him: Now that malaria is at its lowest level recorded in history, and almost gone, what will be done next?­think3/­post/­if_you_do_what_you_did_you_get_what_you_got

Mar '10: ‘Twitter nets’: Can social media impact disease control?

"It's consciousness-raising and movement building 2.0", said Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. She went a step further by saying "...the goal of eradicating deaths from malaria by 2015 is smart, forward-thinking, and, given the growing reach of social platforms, very pragmatic". These words went along with the UN's start of a social media campaign that was launched on 15 March. Today, two weeks later, many more than 28 million people have heard about malaria from high-profile individuals. That’s impressive.­think3/­post/­twitter_nets_28_million_people_in_2_weeks

Mar '10: Malaria: When sudden beats chronic

This February the world marvelled when a group of scientists led by the Egyptian archeologist Dr. Zahi Awass shed new light on the cause of death of legendary ‘boy King’ Tutankhamun. Although it was long considered that the King that ruled Egypt between 1333-1324 BC was murdered or poisoned, it now surfaced that he died of malaria and an infected leg fracture. Advanced DNA analysis of Tuts mummified remains revealed that the 19-year old suffered from the deadliest form of malaria, caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. Received through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito.­think3/­post/­malaria_when_sudden_beats_chronic