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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Centro de Investigação em Saúde de Manhiça, Ifakara Health Institute, de Tanzania, Malaria Research and Training Center y Kintampo Health Research Centre

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 2008

Malaria, a disease caused by a parasite and transmitted by mosquitoes, represents a threat to almost 40% of the world´s population. The majority of cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where one child under 5 years of age dies every 30 seconds. As a result of the first World Malaria Day, held on 25th April 2008, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, announced the launching of new drive to reinforce the goal of eradicating the disease from the African continent by the end of 2010. Among the tools to achieve this goal, he emphasised the importance of training medical staff in affected countries and encouraging research.

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Among others, the strategic goals of the four award-winning institutions include biomedical research, the training of local personnel, medical care and institutional backing as tools to put an end to the relation between disease and poverty, thus contributing to the development of national and international public health.

The Malaria Research and Training Center (MRTC), in Mali, was set up in 1989 as part of a collaborative effort between the staff of the Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Odonto-Stomatology and the National Institutes of Health in the United States (NIH), the Rockefeller Foundation and the World Health Organization. Significant support was subsequently obtained from a number of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programmes, as well as from other charitable institutions. The MRTC now forms a unitary organization, in which the work is planned, directed and executed by Malian staff. The MRTC is involved in all aspects of research on malaria. All the work at the MRTC is aimed at developing and testing appropriate strategies for the eventual control of malaria and the reduction of the burden of disease in the people of Mali, the region, and Africa as a whole. The centre is directed by Dr. Ogobara Doumbo, as is the vaccine testing programme that the MRTC carries out together with the Malaria Vaccine Development Unit of the NIH Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases. Likewise, the MRTC leads the way in technologies which can detect the presence of resistant parasites from a single drop of blood collected and dried on filter paper, thus allowing malaria?s resistance to certain drugs to be combated.

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