The successful elimination of malaria will require diligent surveillance with innovative new tools to help control programs to monitor parasite transmission and identify the key foci of infection. Traditional malaria surveillance focuses on parasite prevalence and incidence. Whilst this is important to monitor transmission reduction, it doesn’t inform on how the parasite population is changing and evolving in response to pressures such as antimalarial drugs, or how infections are spreading within communities and across borders. An integrated approach using information on the genetic make-up of parasites, combined with spatial mapping and modelling, will help to address some of these knowledge gaps. In collaboration with the Wellcome Sanger Institute, our research program will use genomic data on malaria parasites to identify optimal surveillance markers for the Asia-Pacific region. Genotyping data will be produced at the markers in parasite populations with detailed clinical and epidemiological data. Population genetic measures will be used to assess population-level transmission, informing on the magnitude and stability of local transmission. Mathematical models incorporating genetic and spatial data will be used to assess the connectivity between local infections to help to identify key reservoirs and routes of infection. The data will be shared with local malaria control programs to facilitate decision-making on target areas for intervention.
Other team members: Abebe Fola, Dulcie Lautu