NEW DELHI: In a bid to address malaria in the light of climate change and weather volatility, Malaria No More, an international NGO announced the launch of a new global institute – the Institute for Malaria and Climate Solutions (IMACS) – in partnership with the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi (CPC) and it is Reaching the Last Mile (RLM) initiative.
Malaria is one of oldest and deadliest diseases and is among the many challenges we will soon face at the intersection of health and climate change. Increasing temperatures, extreme weather events, and changing rainfall patterns are complicating our global efforts to eradicate malaria: climate change is putting more people at risk of all diseases carried by mosquitoes and other insect “vectors.”
IMACS, a virtual center of excellence, has been established to advance multidisciplinary approaches to malaria strategies informed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and climate data while supporting their adoption by malaria control programs worldwide. The institute is a part of the Forecasting Healthy Futures (FHF) initiative, a consortium convened by Malaria No More and the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi’s Reaching the Last Mile in 2020 to drive innovation and investment in global health solutions in the context of climate change. In partnership with the Government of India and the Government of Odisha, FHF has designed and implemented a highly sophisticated Malaria Prediction & Planning Toolkit, which IMACS will work to replicate in other malaria-affected countries around the world.
The Mohamed Bin Zayed University for Artificial Intelligence has also joined as a new technical partner to build on the pioneering work that has been achieved to date. IMACS will advance innovations in data and technology-informed malaria programs, foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among an international network of experts and convene an annual scientific conference to showcase the most promising novel approaches to building climate resilience in health systems. It will also actively support the translation of those approaches to practical and applicable solutions, by deploying multidisciplinary technical assistance to malaria-endemic countries.
Dr. Kaushik Sarkar, Director-in-Charge of Malaria No More India, was appointed as IMACS’ inaugural Director. Commenting on the launch, Dr. Sarkar, said, “The Institute for Malaria and Climate Solutions serves as a robust opportunity to address the climate inequalities and injustices impeding Global Health ambitions such as malaria eradication. Through this virtual center of excellence, we hope to pioneer the effort of climate-proofing global health solutions and paving an innovative way of combatting climate-sensitive diseases through collective wisdom, state-of-art technologies and interdisciplinary approaches.”
The Institute serves as the secretariat for a growing community of practice and will be guided by a Scientific Advisory Board of international experts in climate sciences, infectious disease, entomology, and AI. Its staff and consultants are based throughout the malaria-affected world, and work in partnership with Ministries of Health everywhere in support of malaria elimination. Dr. William Pan, Associate Professor of Global Environmental Health at Duke University, was named as the Chair of IMACS’ Science Advisory Board.