The symposium on Malaria in Africa: Emerging Prevention and Control Challenges was held in San Francisco on February 17, 2001, at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). We were very fortunate to have represented at this event four individuals who are not only top malaria researchers but also among the most articulate advocates for increasing our commitment to combating this disease, which so disproportionately affects the poor. As the evidence presented in this report will attest, malaria is more than a health problem. It is also a development problem, contributing to and symptomatic of a host of other socioeconomic ills.
I will not attempt to summarize the various scientific, economic, and political aspects of malaria in Africa here, since the speakers themselves do that far better than I could. The presentations offered online here were transcribed from audiotape and edited as minimally as possible to retain their original engaging character. They are therefore not formal papers prepared for a reading audience, and perhaps for that very reason I think they are particularly enjoyable to read, having something of the natural flow of conversation. Bob Gwadz, serving as both moderator and presenter, provides a general overview of the biology of malaria and the main challenges the disease presents in Africa; Rob Ridley focuses on public and private mechanisms of drug development; Yeya Touré explains the strategies and challenges of vector control; and Martin Alilio offers an overall summary of pertinent issues and discusses the role of collaboration at the local, regional, and international levels. Their talks are offered here in the order in which they were presented at the symposium.
A special thanks to Bob Gwadz, from the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), for generously supporting the participation of Yeya Touré from Mali. It is perhaps worth noting that this symposium was not supported by any grants, so the fact that these esteemed researchers agreed to turn up anyway is truly a testament to their heart and dedication. I would like to thank all four of them very much indeed for their time and effort.
I would also like to thank Alphonse Bigirimana, formerly of the AAAS Africa Program, for laying the groundwork for the symposium and suggesting its scope. Without his initiation and original shepherding of the process, the symposium would not have taken place.
Finally, I would like to alert the reader to a previous malaria project coordinated by AAAS in 1991 under the auspices of a USAID Cooperative Agreement: Malaria and Development in Africa: A Cross-Sectoral Approach, the report from which is now out of print but available online (minus its background papers). One of the things made clear by the 2001 San Francisco symposium is that many of the recommendations of this other report, made a decade earlier, are every bit as relevant today as they were then. It is still well worth a close look by donors, aid agencies, NGOs, local and national governments, affected communities, and others interested in fighting a well-orchestrated battle against malaria.