Multilateral Initiative on Malaria Secretariat to move to Sweden

August 13, 2002

National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland -- The Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announces today that Stockholm University, Karolinska Institute, and the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control have been selected to serve as Secretariat of the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) for 2003 to 2005. Since 1999 FIC has served as Secretariat of MIM, working in close cooperation with NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Library of Medicine on behalf of MIM's sponsoring agencies. The transfer of the MIM Secretariat will take place shortly after the Third MIM Pan-African Malaria Conference, which will be held in November 2002 in Arusha, Tanzania.

MIM is an international alliance of research and public health agencies and African scientists that was established in 1997 in Dakar, Senegal, at the first Pan-African Malaria Conference. MIM's objectives are to stimulate and support collaborative research to address the needs of public health programs in malaria-endemic countries; to modernize communication systems used by the African research community; and to strengthen research capacity and human resources in those parts of the world where the disease is most widely spread, mainly in Africa, but also in South America and Asia.

Malaria kills 2.7 million people each year, according to the most recent estimates, and is responsible for enormous economic burdens in malaria-endemic regions. Over 75 percent of those who die of malaria are African children under the age of 5. Over 1.5 billion new infections occur annually. Unfortunately, these numbers are on the rise due to insecticide resistance, antimalarial drug resistance, and environmental changes. Unless new strategies are developed, death and illness due to malaria will increase, and the disease will continue to be a substantial barrier to the economic and social development of malaria-endemic regions and a threat to the millions of people who travel to those regions each year.

As agreed when MIM was launched, the Secretariat rotates among sponsoring agencies every three years. The Wellcome Trust served as the first MIM Secretariat. To ensure that the transfer of the MIM Secretariat was conducted in a fair and transparent manner, the current MIM Secretariat developed a voting mechanism involving MIM's partners to decide which organization(s) would serve as the third MIM Secretariat. A group of voting representatives composed of MIM's major partners, including NIH; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the United States Agency for International Development; the government research and development agencies of France, Germany, Japan, and Sweden; The World Bank; the World Health Organization; The Burroughs Wellcome Fund; The Wellcome Trust; and The Malaria Vaccine Initiative, as well as the African scientific institutions that have been most directly involved in MIM, reviewed the applications and voted to select the new MIM Secretariat. The voting members consisted of 10 funding partners from the North and 11 African countries representing 16 research institutions. These voting members were identified based on their significant and direct involvement with MIM, either through major support of malaria conferences, workshops, and initiatives or through in-country activities.

"We are pleased to have had the opportunity to host the MIM Secretariat since 1999 and to help shape its directions and activities during that time. We are equally delighted that the next MIM Secretariat has been selected and that new perspectives and energies will be added to this critical enterprise," said Gerald T. Keusch, M.D., Director of MIM and of NIH's Fogarty International Center. He added, "The enormous burden of malaria and the disparity in global malaria research efforts is the rationale for MIM and the reason why U.S., European, Asian, South American, and African scientists have joined together in MIM to promote malaria research to develop new and improved control interventions."

The MIM Secretariat in Sweden will be sponsored by the Swedish International Development Agency, the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the International Science Program.

The Third MIM Pan-African Malaria Conference will be held November 17 to 22, 2002, in Arusha, Tanzania. As with previous MIM conferences, the Arusha conference will bring together malaria researchers from across Africa and around the world to consider malaria research advances and opportunities, as well as how to more effectively employ or develop malaria control strategies and boost malaria research training activities.
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Detailed information about MIM, its partners, and activities is available on the MIM website at http://mim.nih.gov.

FIC is the international component of the NIH. It promotes and supports scientific discovery internationally and mobilizes resources to reduce disparities in global health. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Press releases, fact sheets, and other FIC-related materials are available at http://www.nih.gov/fic.

NIH/Fogarty International Center

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