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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Florida Malaria Research in Haiti

Dr. Bernard Okech, a research associate professor in the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions’ department of environmental and global health, and a faculty at the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute, has been working very closely with the Haiti Ministry of Health (Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population, or MSPP) for more than five years. Dr. Okech has conducted studies on anti-malarial drug resistance genes and also examined efficacy of chloroquine (CQ) for treatment of malaria in Haiti. The drug has been used in Haiti since 1955 with no clear evidence for emerging resistance. Dr. Okech’s other research efforts in Haiti include examining the deficiency rates of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) enzyme in Haiti where data was lacking. To decrease malaria transmission in Haiti, primaquine (PQ) was added to the malaria treatment to target gametocytes, but PQ can cause drug-induced hemolytic anemia in individuals with G6PD deficiency.

Another important aspect of Dr. Okech’s work in Haiti involves the development and strengthening of the capacity, both infrastructure and human resource, for mosquito work at the Ministry of Health. Dr. Okech’s funding support enabled the construction of an insectary for rearing Anopheles albimanus mosquitoes, which are then used in research studies geared toward understanding insecticide susceptibility and vectorial capacity.

Dr. Okech also collaborates closely with other malaria stakeholders in Haiti including LNSP, PAHO/WHO Haiti and the CDC-Haiti. Dr. Okech continues to mentor several University of Florida PhD and MPH students who have spent a considerable amount of time conducting field work in Haiti. Dr. Okech welcomes collaborations. For more information, please contact him at bokech@ufl.edu.