Equatorial Guinea has made tremendous efforts to eradicate the malaria virus. Until a decade ago, the main island of Bioko had one of the world’s highest malaria transmission rates, accounting for more than a third of all deaths. Today, the occurrence of malaria on Bioko Island is drastically impacted thanks to a pioneering project that is today a global benchmark for eliminating malaria. The Bioko Island Malaria Control Project (BIMCP), a collaborative program of the American company Marathon Oil and its partners Noble Energy, GEPetrol and SONAGAS, the NGO Medical Care Development International and the Equatorial Guinea Government, has vastly reduced malaria transmission rates since its inception in 2003. With $50 million of investments, the project reduced transmission by nearly 70 percent among children 2 to 14 years old and 65 percent for children under the age of 4. Following a successful first decade, the program has been extended until 2018.
“By bringing together an integrated team of companies from the private sector, leading health specialists, and Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, we created a successful partnership and a malaria intervention model for the whole of sub-Saharan Africa,” His Excellency Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, said in a book celebrating the 10-year anniversary of BIMCP.
As the fight to eliminate malaria from Bioko continues, the Equatorial Guinea government is also committed to finding a cure for the virus. This year, the country held the first ever clinical trial for a new malaria vaccine called PfSPZ. The trial was held at La Paz Medical Center, just outside the capital of Malabo. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is working with the BIMCP partners and international organizations such as Sanaria and the Ifakara Health Institute to test the vaccine. In March, three volunteers participated in the trial, which was developed by Sanaria. The main objective is to develop and bring to market a vaccine that will provide protection against Plasmodium falciparum. The malaria parasite is responsible for more than 95 percent of all malaria-related illnesses and deaths.