Guyana gets new technology for malaria sequencing

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Guyana is continuing the fight against malaria with the procurement of new technology that will facilitate the sequencing, the genomes of parasites found in the blood of infected patients.

The new advanced technology will also help researchers to determine the different genes and hot spot areas of the parasite here in the country.

Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony made the announcement on Monday, at the launch of a five-day workshop, that focuses on medical professionals’ training.

“This project is intended to use new and innovative technologies to understand better the malaria parasite and the malaria vector responsible for the transmission of the disease,” Dr. Anthony said.

He said the project will help Guyana to completely eliminate malaria parasites and vectors. This will be done through the development of a molecular surveillance system, which will be used to monitor trends of the disease and determine sources of the parasites.

Researchers will also be able to monitor the distribution of malaria and the spread of the disease across the country as well as monitor the resistance of antimalarial drugs, to possibly develop new technologies and medicines to treat those infected.

Dr. Anthony said, “drug resistance is a complex and challenging public health problem. All known drugs for malaria, there have been established some level of clinical resistance.”

He said with the continuous resistance of these drugs, more persons have been hospitalised, diagnosed with anemia, having low birth weight, and even deaths.

Meanwhile, Dr. Caroline Buckee, Professor of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard said the project will help officials understand the malaria parasites and could also be used in the fight against COVID-19.

“We really believe that these two foundations can help, not only the malaria programme, but also other vector-borne diseases and other infections including COVID…

I think Guyana now has elimination in sights as part of regional and global initiatives to reduce the burdens,” Dr. Buckee said.

The research project is supported and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is a collaboration between the Ministry of Health and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.