Participants who attended "Advances in Plasmodium vivax Malaria Research", an international conference that took place on May 28 and 29 in Barcelona's CosmoCaixa, took away the clear message that, despite the fact that the importance of malaria caused by P vivax has tended to be underestimated in the past, this parasite is the cause of a very significant burden of disease. This scientific meeting, the fourth in a series of conferences on P vivax research that began in Bangkok in 2002, also demonstrated that the community of researchers dedicated to the study of this species is flourishing and very active. The event convened 175 experts from all over the world to review the latest discoveries relating to P vivax, the most widely distributed malaria parasite and also the most difficult one to control.
During the 2-day conference, a variety of topics were discussed, ranging from the basic biology and genomics of P vivax to the epidemiology, prevention and treatment of vivax malaria and the task of controlling and eliminating the causative parasite. On Thursday 30th of May, the day after the conference, attendees at a satellite event involving six workshops reviewed the progress that has been made on key aspects of the P vivax research agenda pertaining to the elimination of the parasite. These workshops were hosted by the Interdisciplinary Plasmodium vivax Research Consortium (iVAX), a body coordinated by researchers from CRESIB, the ISGlobal research centre.
In his keynote address at the conference, Robert D. Newman, director of the Global Malaria Programme at the World Health Organisation, cited the principal challenges facing P Vivax research as the parasite's resistance to both drugs and insecticides and the lack of funding for research. Nonetheless, he went on to say that it was encouraging to see that the resources invested to date have started to yield results in terms of a significant increase in our knowledge and understanding of this species.
In his closing remarks, Alan Magill, Director of the Malaria Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stressed that the eradication of vivax malaria is a global health priority and urged his audience to continue working towards that goal.
The conference was organised by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in collaboration with the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), the "la Caixa" Foundation and the International Centre for Scientific Debate (B-Debate).