PhD opportunity on Malaria Control through Agricultural Engineering in Africa – University of Copenhagen

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05 December 2018

PhD opportunity on Malaria Control through Agricultural Engineering in Africa

In many areas of sub-Saharan Africa, malaria transmission remains stubbornly persistent despite massive scale-up of vector control measures such as long-lasting insecticidal nets.  Tororo, Uganda and Banfora, Burkina Faso are examples of such sites.  These two areas are similar in their topography in that water collects in valley bottoms that are used for agricultural cultivation.  

It may be possible to reduce malaria transmission in these areas through environmental management.  This may also have co-benefits, for example, better drainage could boost crop yield or alternative high value crops cultivated on drier soils may be produced increasing financial benefits from farming.  Although historically hugely successful, environmental management is an under-utilised vector control approach and the World Health Organization is advocating for multi-sectoral approaches to vector control that do not necessarily involve insecticides.  Here we will explore the use of state-of-the-art engineering technologies to produce long-term solutions to malaria control in hots spots in sub-Saharan Africa. This project will adopt a trans-disciplinary approach involving epidemiologists, agricultural water engineers, community members, tropical agriculturalists and agricultural/health economists to determine the feasibility of environmental management in these two sites.

Where does the project lie on the Translational Pathway?

T3 (Evidence into Practice) – T4 (Practice to Policy/Population)

Expected Outputs

The project will revisit how environmental management could be used to reduce malaria in agricultural settings.  Lessons learnt in the two settings will have wider application beyond Burkina Faso and Uganda and could have large impact in reducing malaria morbidity and mortality, particularly in areas of intense malaria transmission. In the era of limited funding for malaria control, combined with challenges of environmental change and insecticide resistance, there is increasing appetite among vector-control programmes, policy makers and funders to identify vector control solutions from outside the health sector.  The project will lead to peer-reviewed publications and may feed into policy processes, guidelines and recommendations on environmental management for malaria control released by the World Health Organization.

Training Opportunities

The project will provide training in epidemiology, vector biology, agricultural/health economics, agricultural engineering and social science research methods.

Skills Required

The project is well suited to a student with training in agricultural engineering who is interested in applying state-of-the-art solutions to development and public health.  Alternatively, an economist, public health or vector biology graduate could be trained in the other disciplines. The candidate should be willing to work across disciplines and spend time in the field.  The project will be circulated by supervisors to agricultural and water engineering graduates and MSc graduates.

Key Publications associated with this project

  • Keiser J, Singer BH, Utzinger J (2005) Reducing the burden of malaria in different eco-epidemiological settings with environmental management: a systematic review. The Lancet Infectious Diseases 5 (11); 695-708.
  • Konradsen F, van der Hoek W, Amerasinghe FP, Mutero C, Boelee E (2004) Engineering and malaria control: learning from the past 100 years.  Acta Tropica 89 (2): 99-108.
  • Kibret S, Alemu Y, Boelee E, Tekie H, Alemu D, Petros B (2010) The impact of a small-scale irrigation scheme on malaria transmission in Ziway area, Central Ethiopia. Tropical Medicine and International Health 15 (1): 41-50.
  • De Plaen R, Seka M-L, Koutoua A (2004) The paddy, the vector and the caregiver: lessons from an ecosystem approach to irrigation and malaria in Northern Côte d’Ivoire.  Acta Tropica 89(2): 135-146.
  • Keiser J, Utzinger J, Singer BH (2002) The potential of intermittent irrigation for increasing rice yields, lowering water consumption, reducing methane emissions, and controlling malaria in African rice fields. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 18 (4): 329-340.

LSTM Themes and Topics – Key Words

Malaria and other vector-borne diseases / Vector control

Deadline details

The call for applications for the 2019-20 round of studentships is now open.Deadline for applications is 23:59 on Friday 1st February 2019. More information about this programme and application process can be found here.

Contact information

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Pembroke Place Liverpool
L3 5QA UKGeneral: +44(0)151 705 3100
Well Travelled Clinic: 0151 705 3223
Fax: +44(0)151 705 3370
e-mail: info@lstmed.ac.uk