While presenting for the first time on the initial results of our "Scientists Against Malaria" drug design initiative at the Bio-IT conference in Boston this week, I used a few slides from our trip to the Caprivi Delta, Namibia to draw attention to the realities and important issues on the ground of the children needing solutions in such regions.
While on a start-up conservation field trip in a remote region of Namibia, we visited many local villages: you can consider the children here as an introduction to your ‘future patients’ for malaria treatment. Malaria is a common infection in this region which has many wetlands and a strong wet season.
Families and village communities form a critical part of the social fabric in this region. Unfortunately a high HIV infection rate is having devastating impact on such communities. Infections go untreated and many children lose their parents.
We visited a local school where we had lively interactions with the children who demonstrated their talents with enthusiasm and energy. Education requires healthy families and children so that children can attend such schooling for sufficiently long periods of time to develop stronger educational foundations to navigate the issues of this coming century for their community.
This next generation of the community is however growing up with the challenges of malaria and little medical care.
A family we interviewed with proudly showed us their material possessions. The current cost of our anti-malarials for just two weeks would exceed their entire annual income.
We can work on biodiversity conservation (e.g., recent rhino rescue work in Thanda shown). But we need a healthy, educated community involvement for it to be sustainable. Criminal groups who exploit these communities and regions for poaching must be resisted through capacity building. In collaboration together in areas of health, education and business we can build a more promising future for both the people and their rich and valuable biodiverse environment.
Consider the following realities and joining us in our collaborative work to invent new ones!