December 8, 2006
DAVIS--The University of California Malaria Research and Control Group (UC MRCG), a newly formed statewide consortium of UC scientists and mosquito abatement professionals, is drawing state and national attention for its commitment to battle malaria in Africa.
Scientists from four UC campuses and the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California (MVCAC) launched the 21-member group in February, vowing to defeat "one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases."
The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD), responsible for vector control in 35 cities, unanimously passed a resolution last August in support of the partnership and its goals. In November, GLACVCD officials wrote to President George Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, informing them of the humanitarian effort and seeking their support. They included a copy of the resolution.
"The enthusiastic support of the MVCAC and individual California mosquito districts to this cause serves to illustrate the high degree of professionalism and dedication to service that characterizes this community of public servants," said UC Davis medical entomologist Gregory Lanzaro, director of the UC Malaria Research and Control Group, the UC Mosquito Research Program and the Center for Vectorborne Diseases, all headquartered on the UC Davis campus.
"It’s all about saving lives," said Lanzaro, who researches Anopheles gambiae, the mosquito that transmits malaria. "It’s the right thing to do. We are combining compassion, technology and science to defeat a killer."
UC MRCG, part of the UC Mosquito Research Program, a special statewide program of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, includes scientists from UC Davis, UC Riverside, UC Irvine and UCLA, and mosquito abatement professionals throughout the state.
Dexter W. MacBride, a 12-year GLACVCD trustee who spearheaded the resolution and is the rallying force behind the drive, urged and received the board’s support. "This is what we ought to do," he told them. Malaria, he said, kills more than a million Africans a year.
The resolution praises UC scientists, headed by Lanzaro, and MVCAC, headed by Christopher Voight, for creating "a partnership devoted to the study of the African pandemic" and exploring "effective, acceptable control measures which might reduce and control ravages of malaria."
GLACVCD e-mailed the resolution to the 61 mosquito and vector control districts represented by MVCAC and is contacting the 435 districts affiliated with the America Mosquito Control Association. President Bush and Gov. Schwarzenegger received individual letters that said in part: "Each day, 8000 African children die from the disease. Globally, malaria infects approximately 500 million people annually."
Bush has publicly supported the battle against malaria, MacBride pointed out. Just prior to the G-8 summit last July in St. Petersburg, Russia, Bush said: "The toll of malaria is even more tragic because the disease itself is highly treatable and preventable. Yet this is also our opportunity, because we know that large-scale action can defeat this disease in whole regions. And the world must take that action. Next week at the G-8, I will urge developed countries and private foundations to join in a broad, aggressive campaign to cut the mortality rate for malaria in half."
Leaders at the G-8 summit--Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States--reaffirmed their commitment to fight malaria in the document, "Fight Against Infectious Diseases" (online at www.en.g8russia.ru/docs/10.html)
In an opinion piece published last August in the LaVerne (Calif.) Community News, MacBride called attention to UC MRCG and its vow to defeat the mosquito-borne disease, which infects more than 500 million people annually and kills between 2.5 to 3 million a year. Ninety-percent of the global incidence of malaria occurs in Africa.
MacBride said he places "great hope and confidence in the University of California team."
"It is my hope that these educators, scientists and vector control specialists will achieve the successes they anticipate and in consequence, one million malaria deaths in Africa will decline to miniscule numbers," he wrote in the opinion piece. "It happened in Panama and in the U.S. May it happen in Africa!"
UC MRCG currently receives no funding as an organization, but individual scientists within the group have ongoing partnerships in African countries and ongoing research grants targeting mosquito-borne diseases. UC MRCG hopes to obtain funds "for larger collaborative efforts that will bring individuals together toward a common goal," Lanzaro said.
MVCAC will lend its expertise, personnel and equipment. MVCAC is comprised of "one of the most comprehensive and technically advanced mosquito programs in the world," Lanzaro said.
MVCAC director Chris Voight said the state’s mosquito abatement professionals are on board. "Efficient and effective methods of mosquito control honed over decades of use in California can be exported to Africa with immediate results," he said.
Truc Dever, GLACVCD public information officer, said the humanitarian movement is drawing support throughout the country. The 61-district MVCAC is supporting the cause, with some districts, including the Fresno Westside Mosquito Abatement District, passing resolutions. Mosquito districts in other states, including Illinois and Virginia, have indicated "they will raise the issue with their state organizations," Dever said.
Kathy Keatley Garvey, Communications
University of California Statewide Mosquito Research Program
Department of Entomology--Briggs Hall
One Shields Ave., University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 754-6894, Fax: (530) 752-1537