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    STRIVE PNG: using a partnership-based approach in implementation research to strengthen surveillance and health systems in Papua New Guinea
    Farquhar, R ; Dori, A ; MacCana, S ; Tefuarani, N ; Lavu, E ; Barry, A ; Karl, S ; Makita, L ; Robinson, L ; Laman, M (BMC, 2022-04-02)
    Successful implementation research requires effective and equitable relationships between policy-makers, researchers and implementers to effect evidence-based systems change. However, mainstream research grant models between Global North and Global South institutions often (unintentionally) reinforce power imbalances between partners, which result in missed opportunities for knowledge and learning exchange between policy-makers, researchers and implementers.This case study, centred on the STRIVE PNG project, describes how a partnership-based approach has been used to establish, maintain and review effective and equitable relationships between 13 partner organizations (independent research institutes, government health agencies and public health laboratories) to strengthen surveillance and health systems in Papua New Guinea (PNG). We provide an overview of key terms (with supporting conceptual frameworks), describe selected partnership processes and tools used within the project, and share observations regarding early outcomes achieved through this approach.
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    Surveillance of molecular markers of Plasmodium falciparum artemisinin resistance (kelch13 mutations) in Papua New Guinea between 2016 and 2018
    Lautu-Gumal, D ; Razook, Z ; Koleala, T ; Nate, E ; McEwen, S ; Timbi, D ; Hetzel, MW ; Lavu, E ; Tefuarani, N ; Makita, L ; Kazura, J ; Mueller, I ; Pomat, W ; Laman, M ; Robinson, LJ ; Barry, AE (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2021-07-13)
    Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is a global threat to malaria control and elimination efforts. Mutations in the P. falciparum kelch13 gene (Pfk13) that are associated with delayed parasite clearance have emerged on the Thai-Cambodian border since 2008. There is growing evidence of widespread Pfk13 mutations throughout South-East Asia and they have independently emerged in other endemic regions. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), Pfk13 "C580Y" mutant parasites with reduced in vitro sensitivity to artemisinin have been isolated in Wewak, a port town in East Sepik Province. However, the extent of any local spread of these mutant parasites in other parts of PNG is unknown. We investigated the prevalence of Pfk13 mutations in multiple malaria-endemic regions of PNG. P. falciparum isolates (n = 1152) collected between 2016 and 2018 and assessed for Pfk13 variation by sequencing. Of 663 high quality Pfk13 sequences a total of five variants were identified. They included C580Y, a mutation at a previously documented polymorphic locus: N499K, and three previously undescribed mutations: R471C, K586E and Y635C. All variants were found in single isolates, indicating that these Pfk13 mutations were rare in the areas surveyed. Notably, C580Y was absent from Maprik district, which neighbours Wewak where C580Y mutant parasites were previously identified. The single C580Y isolate was found in the port town of Lae, Morobe Province, a potential entry site for the importation of drug resistant parasites into PNG. Although sample size in this location was small (n = 5), our identification of a C580Y mutant in this second location is concerning, highlighting the urgent need for further surveillance in Lae. Other Pfk13 mutants were rare in PNG between 2016 and 2018. Continued surveillance for molecular markers of drug resistance is critically important to inform malaria control in PNG.
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    MonitoringPlasmodium falciparumandPlasmodium vivaxusing microsatellite markers indicates limited changes in population structure after substantial transmission decline in Papua New Guinea
    Kattenberg, JH ; Razook, Z ; Keo, R ; Koepfli, C ; Jennison, C ; Lautu-Gumal, D ; Fola, AA ; Ome-Kaius, M ; Barnadas, C ; Siba, P ; Felger, I ; Kazura, J ; Mueller, I ; Robinson, LJ ; Barry, AE (WILEY, 2020-10-16)
    Monitoring the genetic structure of pathogen populations may be an economical and sensitive approach to quantify the impact of control on transmission dynamics, highlighting the need for a better understanding of changes in population genetic parameters as transmission declines. Here we describe the first population genetic analysis of two major human malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) and Plasmodium vivax (Pv), following nationwide distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Parasite isolates from pre- (2005-2006) and post-LLIN (2010-2014) were genotyped using microsatellite markers. Despite parasite prevalence declining substantially (East Sepik Province: Pf = 54.9%-8.5%, Pv = 35.7%-5.6%, Madang Province: Pf = 38.0%-9.0%, Pv: 31.8%-19.7%), genetically diverse and intermixing parasite populations remained. Pf diversity declined modestly post-LLIN relative to pre-LLIN (East Sepik: Rs  = 7.1-6.4, HE  = 0.77-0.71; Madang: Rs  = 8.2-6.1, HE  = 0.79-0.71). Unexpectedly, population structure present in pre-LLIN populations was lost post-LLIN, suggesting that more frequent human movement between provinces may have contributed to higher gene flow. Pv prevalence initially declined but increased again in one province, yet diversity remained high throughout the study period (East Sepik: Rs  = 11.4-9.3, HE  = 0.83-0.80; Madang: Rs  = 12.2-14.5, HE  = 0.85-0.88). Although genetic differentiation values increased between provinces over time, no significant population structure was observed at any time point. For both species, a decline in multiple infections and increasing clonal transmission and significant multilocus linkage disequilibrium post-LLIN were positive indicators of impact on the parasite population using microsatellite markers. These parameters may be useful adjuncts to traditional epidemiological tools in the early stages of transmission reduction.
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    Sustained Malaria Control Over an 8-Year Period in Papua New Guinea: The Challenge of Low-Density Asymptomatic Plasmodium Infections
    Koepfli, C ; Ome-Kaius, M ; Jally, S ; Malau, E ; Maripal, S ; Ginny, J ; Timinao, L ; Kattenberg, JH ; Obadia, T ; White, M ; Rarau, P ; Senn, N ; Barry, AE ; Kazura, JW ; Mueller, I ; Robinson, LJ (OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2017-12-01)
    Background: The scale-up of effective malaria control in the last decade has resulted in a substantial decline in the incidence of clinical malaria in many countries. The effects on the proportions of asymptomatic and submicroscopic infections and on transmission potential are yet poorly understood. Methods: In Papua New Guinea, vector control has been intensified since 2008, and improved diagnosis and treatment was introduced in 2012. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in Madang Province in 2006 (with 1280 survey participants), 2010 (with 2117 participants), and 2014 (with 2516 participants). Infections were quantified by highly sensitive quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, and gametocytes were quantified by reverse-transcription qPCR analysis. Results: Plasmodium falciparum prevalence determined by qPCR decreased from 42% in 2006 to 9% in 2014. The P. vivax prevalence decreased from 42% in 2006 to 13% in 2010 but then increased to 20% in 2014. Parasite densities decreased 5-fold from 2006 to 2010; 72% of P. falciparum and 87% of P. vivax infections were submicroscopic in 2014. Gametocyte density and positivity correlated closely with parasitemia, and population gametocyte prevalence decreased 3-fold for P. falciparum and 29% for P. vivax from 2010 to 2014. Conclusions: Sustained control has resulted in reduced malaria transmission potential, but an increasing proportion of gametocyte carriers are asymptomatic and submicroscopic and represent a challenge to malaria control.
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    Blood-Stage Parasitaemia and Age Determine Plasmodium falciparum and P-vivax Gametocytaemia in Papua New Guinea
    Koepfli, C ; Robinson, LJ ; Rarau, P ; Salib, M ; Sambale, N ; Wampfler, R ; Betuela, I ; Nuitragool, W ; Barry, AE ; Siba, P ; Felger, I ; Mueller, I ; Carvalho, LH (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2015-05-21)
    A better understanding of human-to-mosquito transmission is crucial to control malaria. In order to assess factors associated with gametocyte carriage, 2083 samples were collected in a cross-sectional survey in Papua New Guinea. Plasmodium species were detected by light microscopy and qPCR and gametocytes by detection of pfs25 and pvs25 mRNA transcripts by reverse-transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR). The parasite prevalence by PCR was 18.5% for Plasmodium falciparum and 13.0% for P. vivax. 52.5% of all infections were submicroscopic. Gametocytes were detected in 60% of P. falciparum-positive and 51% of P. vivax-positive samples. Each 10-fold increase in parasite density led to a 1.8-fold and 3.3-fold increase in the odds of carrying P. falciparum and P. vivax gametocytes. Thus the proportion of gametocyte positive and gametocyte densities was highest in young children carrying high asexual parasite densities and in symptomatic individuals. Dilution series of gametocytes allowed absolute quantification of gametocyte densities by qRT-PCR and showed that pvs25 expression is 10-20 fold lower than pfs25 expression. Between 2006 and 2010 parasite prevalence in the study site has decreased by half. 90% of the remaining infections were asymptomatic and likely constitute an important reservoir of transmission. However, mean gametocyte densities were low (approx. 1-2 gametocyte/μL) and it remains to be determined to what extent low-density gametocyte positive individuals are infective to mosquitos.
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    SNP barcodes provide higher resolution than microsatellite markers to measurePlasmodium vivaxpopulation genetics
    Fola, AA ; Kattenberg, E ; Razook, Z ; Lautu-Gumal, D ; Lee, S ; Mehra, S ; Bahlo, M ; Kazura, J ; Robinson, LJ ; Laman, M ; Mueller, I ; Barry, AE (BMC, 2020-10-20)
    BACKGROUND: Genomic surveillance of malaria parasite populations has the potential to inform control strategies and to monitor the impact of interventions. Barcodes comprising large numbers of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers are accurate and efficient genotyping tools, however may need to be tailored to specific malaria transmission settings, since 'universal' barcodes can lack resolution at the local scale. A SNP barcode was developed that captures the diversity and structure of Plasmodium vivax populations of Papua New Guinea (PNG) for research and surveillance. METHODS: Using 20 high-quality P. vivax genome sequences from PNG, a total of 178 evenly spaced neutral SNPs were selected for development of an amplicon sequencing assay combining a series of multiplex PCRs and sequencing on the Illumina MiSeq platform. For initial testing, 20 SNPs were amplified in a small number of mono- and polyclonal P. vivax infections. The full barcode was then validated by genotyping and population genetic analyses of 94 P. vivax isolates collected between 2012 and 2014 from four distinct catchment areas on the highly endemic north coast of PNG. Diversity and population structure determined from the SNP barcode data was then benchmarked against that of ten microsatellite markers used in previous population genetics studies. RESULTS: From a total of 28,934,460 reads generated from the MiSeq Illumina run, 87% mapped to the PvSalI reference genome with deep coverage (median = 563, range 56-7586) per locus across genotyped samples. Of 178 SNPs assayed, 146 produced high-quality genotypes (minimum coverage = 56X) in more than 85% of P. vivax isolates. No amplification bias was introduced due to either polyclonal infection or whole genome amplification (WGA) of samples before genotyping. Compared to the microsatellite panels, the SNP barcode revealed greater variability in genetic diversity between populations and geographical population structure. The SNP barcode also enabled assignment of genotypes according to their geographic origins with a significant association between genetic distance and geographic distance at the sub-provincial level. CONCLUSIONS: High-throughput SNP barcoding can be used to map variation of malaria transmission dynamics at sub-national resolution. The low cost per sample and genotyping strategy makes the transfer of this technology to field settings highly feasible.
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    The epidemiology of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax in East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, pre- and post-implementation of national malaria control efforts
    Kattenberg, JH ; Gumal, DL ; Ome-Kaius, M ; Kiniboro, B ; Philip, M ; Jally, S ; Kasian, B ; Sambale, N ; Siba, PM ; Karl, S ; Barry, AE ; Felger, I ; Kazura, JW ; Mueller, I ; Robinson, LJ (BMC, 2020-06-05)
    BACKGROUND: In the past decade, national malaria control efforts in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have received renewed support, facilitating nationwide distribution of free long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), as well as improvements in access to parasite-confirmed diagnosis and effective artemisinin-combination therapy in 2011-2012. METHODS: To study the effects of these intensified control efforts on the epidemiology and transmission of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections and investigate risk factors at the individual and household level, two cross-sectional surveys were conducted in the East Sepik Province of PNG; one in 2005, before the scale-up of national campaigns and one in late 2012-early 2013, after 2 rounds of LLIN distribution (2008 and 2011-2012). Differences between studies were investigated using Chi square (χ2), Fischer's exact tests and Student's t-test. Multivariable logistic regression models were built to investigate factors associated with infection at the individual and household level. RESULTS: The prevalence of P. falciparum and P. vivax in surveyed communities decreased from 55% (2005) to 9% (2013) and 36% to 6%, respectively. The mean multiplicity of infection (MOI) decreased from 1.8 to 1.6 for P. falciparum (p = 0.08) and from 2.2 to 1.4 for P. vivax (p < 0.001). Alongside these reductions, a shift towards a more uniform distribution of infections and illness across age groups was observed but there was greater heterogeneity across the study area and within the study villages. Microscopy positive infections and clinical cases in the household were associated with high rate infection households (> 50% of household members with Plasmodium infection). CONCLUSION: After the scale-up of malaria control interventions in PNG between 2008 and 2012, there was a substantial reduction in P. falciparum and P. vivax infection rates in the studies villages in East Sepik Province. Understanding the extent of local heterogeneity in malaria transmission and the driving factors is critical to identify and implement targeted control strategies to ensure the ongoing success of malaria control in PNG and inform the development of tools required to achieve elimination. In household-based interventions, diagnostics with a sensitivity similar to (expert) microscopy could be used to identify and target high rate households.
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    Differential impact of malaria control interventions on P. falciparum and P. vivax infections in young Papua New Guinean children
    Ome-Kaius, M ; Kattenberg, JH ; Zaloumis, S ; Siba, M ; Kiniboro, B ; Jally, S ; Razook, Z ; Mantila, D ; Sui, D ; Ginny, J ; Rosanas-Urgell, A ; Karl, S ; Obadia, T ; Barry, A ; Rogerson, SJ ; Laman, M ; Tisch, D ; Felger, I ; Kazura, JW ; Mueller, I ; Robinson, LJ (BMC, 2019-12-09)
    INTRODUCTION: As malaria transmission declines, understanding the differential impact of intensified control on Plasmodium falciparum relative to Plasmodium vivax and identifying key drivers of ongoing transmission is essential to guide future interventions. METHODS: Three longitudinal child cohorts were conducted in Papua New Guinea before (2006/2007), during (2008) and after scale-up of control interventions (2013). In each cohort, children aged 1-5 years were actively monitored for infection and illness. Incidence of malaria episodes, molecular force of blood-stage infections (molFOB) and population-averaged prevalence of infections were compared across the cohorts to investigate the impact of intensified control in young children and the key risk factors for malaria infection and illness in 2013. RESULTS: Between 2006 and 2008, P. falciparum infection prevalence, molFOB, and clinical malaria episodes reduced by 47%, 59% and 69%, respectively, and a further 49%, 29% and 75% from 2008 to 2013 (prevalence 41.6% to 22.1% to 11.2%; molFOB: 3.4 to 1.4 to 1.0 clones/child/year; clinical episodes incidence rate (IR) 2.6 to 0.8 to IR 0.2 episodes/child/year). P. vivax clinical episodes declined at rates comparable to P. falciparum between 2006, 2008 and 2013 (IR 2.5 to 1.1 to 0.2), while P. vivax molFOB (2006, 9.8; 2008, 12.1) and prevalence (2006, 59.6%; 2008, 65.0%) remained high in 2008. However, in 2013, P. vivax molFOB (1.2) and prevalence (19.7%) had also substantially declined. In 2013, 89% of P. falciparum and 93% of P. vivax infections were asymptomatic, 62% and 47%, respectively, were sub-microscopic. Area of residence was the major determinant of malaria infection and illness. CONCLUSION: Intensified vector control and routine case management had a differential impact on rates of P. falciparum and P. vivax infections but not clinical malaria episodes in young children. This suggests comparable reductions in new mosquito-derived infections but a delayed impact on P. vivax relapsing infections due to a previously acquired reservoir of hypnozoites. This demonstrates the need to strengthen implementation of P. vivax radical cure to maximise impact of control in co-endemic areas. The high heterogeneity of malaria in 2013 highlights the importance of surveillance and targeted interventions to accelerate towards elimination.