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More than 70 Global Experts from Malaria Elimination Group gather for the Annual meet in Chennai

According to WHO, India has nearly halved the number of reported malaria cases between 2000 and 2014 ,from two million to 1.1 million

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Female Anopheles mosquito which cause Malaria. Pixabay

Chennai, December 7, 2016: In a bid to help efforts towards a malaria-free India, more than 70 global experts from the Malaria Elimination Group — an independent international advisory group — gathered here on Wednesday for their annual meet.

Convened by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the three-day event will see experts discuss strategies to shrink the global malaria map and take stock of India’s aim to eliminate the disease by 2030.

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India’s goal aligns with the World Health Organisation (WHO) targets for elimination and the 2014 East Asia Summit pledge made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 17 other leaders to achieve a malaria-free Asia-Pacific region by 2030.

“India’s recent success in eliminating polio shows what can be done when political commitment is strong,” Sir Richard Feachem from the Global Health Group at UCSF said in a statement on Wednesday.

“With vigorous action in the low-burden states, and renewed efforts in all states, India can reach the historic goal of malaria-freedom by 2030,” Feachem added.

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India had the highest malaria burden in the Asia-Pacific region, with more than one billion people at risk of infection.

However, according to WHO, India has nearly halved the number of reported malaria cases between 2000 and 2014 — from two million to 1.1 million.

Some states and union territories (UTs) in India are clearly on the path to elimination, but others are not. Fifteen low- and 11 moderate-burden states/UTs in the country are targeting elimination by 2022.

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“We have been successful in reducing the incidence of malaria through the implementation of both national and state interventions,” noted A.C. Dhariwal, Director at the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) in New Delhi.

The annual meeting of the Malaria Elimination Group in 2015 was held at Swaziland in Africa, in recognition of the country’s success in eliminating malaria. (IANS)

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Experts Warn Human Genome Editing is Too Risky

Chinese scientist triggered an international storm when he announced he had created the first gene-edited babies. He said he had edited the DNA of the twin girls to protect them from HIV

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FILE - An embryo receives a small dose of Cas9 protein and PCSK9 sgRNA in a sperm injection microscope in a laboratory in Shenzhen, in southern China's Guangdong province, Oct. 9, 2018. VOA

A group of experts meeting for the first time to examine the pros and cons of human genome editing say it would be “irresponsible” to engage in this procedure at this time. Late last year, a Chinese scientist triggered an international storm when he announced he had created the first gene-edited babies. He said he had edited the DNA of the twin girls to protect them from HIV.

Having met at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva earlier this week, the 18-person panel warned the procedure is too risky and should not be attempted before a system of strong rules governing this technique are established. Co-chair of the advisory committee, Margaret Hamburg, said the group has agreed on a set of core principles. She said the panel recommends the WHO create a registry for human genome editing research.

human, genome editing
Having met at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva earlier this week, the 18-person panel warned the procedure is too risky. Wikimedia

Under this system, she said scientific work in these technologies would be registered in a transparent way. “We think it is very important to establish this registry to get a better sense of the research that is going on around the world, greater transparency about it, and in fact greater accountability in terms of assuring that research meets standards in terms of science and ethics,” Hamburg said.

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The experts agree this would preclude the kind of secrecy that surrounded the work of the Chinese scientist. She said the panel would like this transparency to extend to the publication of manuscripts that emerge from important research. Hamburg said publishers will be asked to ensure the research has been registered with the WHO before it is publicized.

Hamburg said developing the guidelines on human genome editing is a process that will take about 18 months to complete, noting that it is a difficult, but urgent task that must be carried out in a thoughtful, comprehensive manner. (VOA)