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Rotary Club Oeiras and the International Rotary Foundation get involved in the eradication of Malaria

October 10, 2017

On October 3rd the new iMM insectarium was inaugurated. This state-of-the-art facility was funded by the Rotary International, through its foundation the Rotary Foundation, 15 Rotary District Clubs throughout the world, the Rotary Club of Oeiras, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Merck KGaA.

Throughout the years, the Rotary Foundation, part of Rotary International, has faced several challenges based on its commitment towards the planet’s global health, which have allowed an improvement in the life of several communities spread across the world.

One of its main objectives was the eradication of Poliomyelitis, which began in the early 80’s with the vaccination of 6 million children in the Philippines. Throughout the years and thanks to the many efforts put forward this disease is now almost completely eradicated.

As such, the Rotary Foundation has taken into hands two new projects related to Alzheimer and Malaria.

Malaria kills around 400.000 people every year of which 85% are children younger than 5 years of age. Many children also see their capacities diminished for the rest of their lives.

The Rotary Club of Oeiras has kept strong ties with the several African rotary clubs and as such was already sensitised towards this serious matter. Upon knowing of the promising scientific results presented by Professor Maria Mota, and after an interview with the researcher, the Club proposed to present in the Rotary International Convention 2013, in partnership with the iMM, a project named “Let’s put an End to Malaria”.

The project interested several Rotaries from different countries, namely Africa and the Rotary E-Club 9920 Francophone (France) which decided to join in as the main international partner.

The Rotary Club of Oeiras presented a project of over 160.000 USD to the Rotary International Foundation with the purpose of acquiring the necessary equipment for iMM to replicate at a laboratory level all the life cycle of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, the main responsible for the high levels of mortality seen in humans infected with Malaria. This would also allow a quicker development of drugs aimed at Malaria treatment.

“The Rotary Club of Oeiras once more demonstrates the importance of the involvement of civil society in the search for solutions for the most relevant problems of society”, said iMM Director and head investigator at the Biology and Physiology of Malaria Unit, Professor Maria Mota.

On the 16th of March of 2016 the funding for this project was approved. An additional funding given by Merck KGaA allowed the creation of the necessary conditions for the complete functioning of this facility, one of the few of its kind in Europe and worldwide.

The inauguration of this facility at iMM saw the presence of several international partners, namely France, Nigeria, United States, Angola and Gabon.

“The generous contribute from the Rotaries of 11 different countries, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Merck KGaA has allowed the iMM to have a resource with an unimaginable potential towards the development of novel strategies in the fight against Malaria”, said Miguel Prudêncio, head researcher at the Plasmodium Infection and Anti-Malarial Interventions Unit at iMM.

“When the Rotary Club of Oeiras found out about the excellent results that Torins were achieving in the fight against malaria, it realised it should support nacional researchers, namely in an area that after Polio is one of the biggest challenges of mankind”, said A. Esteves Guerra, the rotary responsible for the Global Subsidy of the project “Let’s Put an End to Malaria”.

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