The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), on 21 April 2017 announced funding for seven malaria research centers around the world. The 7-year International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMRs) award is a continuation of NIAID’s 2010 program that created the International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMRs) award in regions where malaria is endemic. The awards funded three new malaria research centers of which Jimma University is one of them and four existing centers that work in 14 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Malaria is major cause of morbidity and mortality in Ethiopia and continue to impose a tremendous health as well as economic burden to the country. The central objective of this award is to assess the impact of environmental modifications from water resource development projects and shifting agricultural practices on malaria epidemiology in Ethiopia. Malaria transmission dynamics is strongly influenced by environmental modifications from dam and irrigation canal construction in many malaria endemic countries.The NIAID-supported ICEMR award thus willhave major contributions to malaria research by enhancing our understanding of the impact of environmental modifications from the water resource development projects on malaria risks in Ethiopia.
In light of the anticipated increase of irrigated areas and hydropower dams across Africa in general and in Ethiopia in particular the next decade, understanding the impact of water resource development projects on malaria transmission and developing new or additional surveillance and intervention tools and strategies to decrease malaria risks are urgent needed. With the global efforts to eliminate malaria, knowledge ofthe underlying ecological mechanisms of environmental modifications affecting transmission, which is expected to be dynamic in relation to the environmental changes, is critical. We anticipate that the results of this research will have broad implications by generating strong evidences that inform policy and practicefor sustaining malaria controland initiate/enhance elimination program in Ethiopia and in areas of other East African countries with similar eco-epidemiological settingsdue to intensive environmental modifications.The ICEMR award will also further strengthen the capacity of Jimma University to undertake research on malaria to develop new or improved surveillance and control tools.