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Combating Malaria

Malaria is still an extremely dangerous disease. In 2017 there were 219 million cases worldwide; over 90 percent of these were in Africa. In the same year 435,000 people died of malaria.

On the road for a very good cause: the “Mobile Malaria Project” – here in close-up view: Dr. George Busby (Expedition Leader) and Dr. Isaac Ghinai (Expedition Medic) – travelled in a Land Rover Discovery through countries in which the illness represents a serious threat. Exchanging views with local experts was one of the key tasks of the expedition supported by DB Schenker. Photos: George Busby, DB Schenker

The Mobile Malaria Project meet researchers in Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya to learn about their work and to teach African geneticists how to use the latest portable genetic sequencing technology in the field. The Mobile Malaria Project believe that genetics has an important role to play in future malaria monitoring efforts. This is because DNA can tell about the resistance status of populations of parasites and so provides up to date information that can be used by malaria control programs.

On board the Land Rover Discovery, was a large fridge freezer to store reagents to use for scientific analyses. They also have small genetic sequencing machines to sequence DNA.

“Having our logistics covered by DB Schenker meant that we could concentrate on our main project ambitions.”
Dr. George Busby, Team Leader Mobile Malaria Project

Given this project conveyed an important message: they were able to demonstrate that it is possible to collect mosquitoes and generate genetic data on them within six hours, using only equipment and people that can fit into a single vehicle. Sequencing DNA in the back of a moving Land Rover is of course not necessarily imperative for future malaria research. But still it was a proof of principle that genetic sequencing technology no longer requires large centralized sequencing laboratories.

“DB Schenker were instrumental in getting the car safely from England to Africa and back again. They looked after all the administration of shipping the car from the UK to Walvis Bay, from obtaining a container to the paperwork required to get the car into Namibia and across borders. When we arrived in Mombasa, we returned the car at the DB Schenker office so that it could be shipped back.”
Dr. George Busby, Team Leader Mobile Malaria Project

It would be unrealistic to claim that two-month “Mobile Malaria Project” had a decisive effect on efforts to eliminate the disease. But the project fulfilled the ambitions and they have laid some important foundations for future work on malaria by geneticists in Africa.

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