In a recent symposium on nanomedicine and malaria in South Africa (SA Nano Malaria 2016), South African scientists demonstrated the potential of utilising nanomedicine towards combating malaria in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
The symposium commemorates World Malaria Day which is celebrated around the globe on 25 April each year. Malaria remains a life-threatening disease in many areas of sub-Saharan Africa according to a World Health Organisation (WHO). However, nanotechnology is emerging as a tool that can help with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease (and other mosquito-borne diseases).
This initiative is the result of a partnership between the Nanotech and Biotech (NABIO) consulting and South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). The symposium took place at the SAASTA Auditorium-211 Nana Sita Street, Didacta Building, and Pretoria Central on 26 April 2016.
“The objective of the symposium is to create a platform for dialogue, collaboration and partnership between researchers, industry and policy makers. In addition, we want to create a platform where scientists can share this information and eventually we hope that it will reach the public…” says Mr Mthuthuzeli Zamxaka, Science Communicator: Nanotechnology Public Engagement (NPEP) at SAASTA.
NABIO consulting director and chair of organising committee, Dr Steven Mufamadi said South African scientists (from UP, Wits, NWU and NHLS-NIOH) and pharmaceutical industries (Merck & Bayer) presented cutting-edge topics on malaria and nanomedicine research such as nanomedicine for advanced drug delivery for Anti-malaria therapy, early detection and rapid diagnosis, malaria prevention using mosquito repellents and safety issues around nanomedicine. The World Health Organization (WHO), Department of Health (DoH) & Medical Research Council (SAMRC) address the current state of malaria and/or strategies towards malaria control, elimination & eradication in a SA and WHO perspectives. The National Research Foundation (NRF), Department of Science & Technology (DST), Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and SAASTA highlighted the government opportunities; research funding, Innovation & commercialization support and public engagement programmes.
Dr Mufamadi also emphasised that. “If South Africa plans to combat or eradicate malaria inside its borders, this country needs to start facilitating its nanotechnology industrialisation; policy makers need to start engaging the benefits of nanotechnology and public-private industry collaboration & partnership model”