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Aussie living in Calgary Canada. Married to a Calgary girl. I\'m a member of Boinc@Australia and reckon its a great team. :))
News

Updating test application
Dear users,

As of today, I am updating the malaria control test application to OpenMalaria v32 (see previous news item). Also today, I will be starting a small experiment using this simulator version of roughly 17000 workunits.

With this release comes support for an extra platform: 64-bit Windows (previously, the 32-bit Windows application was used on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows). This build requires the .NET framework and has so far only been tested on Windows 7 and 8.1, so let us know if you run into any issues.

- D Hardy
18 Jul 2014 9:02:47 UTC · Comment


Updates
Dear users,

I am scheduling a small amount of down-time next Monday for server updates. If all goes to plan this will only be a few minutes.

In other news, release 32 of our simulator software, OpenMalaria, is ready for use. This release includes a lot of work to increase the breadth of types of malaria intervention and intervention deployment strategies which OpenMalaria can simulate, as well as allowing monitoring of multiple subsets of the simulated human population. The test application and shortly thereafter branch A will be updated to use this in the next few weeks.

Regards,

Diggory Hardy
30 Jun 2014 14:41:03 UTC · Comment


Down, and back
Dear BOINC users,

As you may have noticed, malariacontrol.net has been down since Friday the 24th. By the time you see this message, it should be up and fully operational again, but it might still need some adjustment.

Our apologies go to everyone inconvenienced: the cause of the down time was beyond our control, but we should perhaps have been better prepared to handle it. In any case, malariacontrol.net should be up and running again now, though there are a few things which may still need sorting out. Delays were mostly to give us more time to test the new server set-up and due to some non-technical reasons (lets just say life includes some joyous moments you can't miss).

The cause of the failure was simple enough: hardware failure of an old machine. We have set up the a server to take over the running of malariacontrol.net (on significantly more powerful hardware), using backups of the old machine. Unfortunately the terminal failure of the old machine means that we were forced to use backups from a few hours before the failure, and any results uploaded just before the failure have been lost. For us, this means some work will have to be resubmitted; for you, it means you may have lost some credit (hopefully we can compensate for this).

The short of it is we're back up now with more server capacity than before and keen to make up for lost time. Thanks to you for sticking around, lets get going again — and please do let us know if there are any problems due to the migration!

Diggory Hardy
Michael Tarantino
Nicolas Maire
4 Feb 2014 10:49:32 UTC · Comment


Science update part III: till June 2013
Dear malariacontrol.net user,

In our third installment on the science update, we look at how your cpu cycles helped Olivier Briët and his colleagues explore the pressing issue of how insecticide resistance might affect the cost effectiveness of an intervention, as reported in Effects of pyrethroid resistance on the cost effectiveness of a mass distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets: a modelling study.

The effectiveness of insecticide-treated nets in preventing malaria is threatened by developing resistance against pyrethroids. Little is known about how strongly pyrethroid resistance affects the effectiveness of vector control programmes.

In this analysis, data from experimental hut studies on the effects of long-lasting, insecticidal nets (LLINs) on nine anopheline mosquito populations, with varying levels of mortality in World Health Organization susceptibility tests, were used to parameterize models. Both simple static models predicting population-level insecticidal effectiveness and protection against blood feeding, and complex dynamic epidemiological models, where LLINs decayed over time, were used. The epidemiological models, implemented in OpenMalaria, were employed to study the impact of a single mass distribution of LLINs on malaria, both in terms of episodes prevented during the effective lifetime of the batch of LLINs, and in terms of net health benefits expressed in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) averted during that period, depending on net type (standard pyrethroid-only LLIN or pyrethroid-piperonyl butoxide combination LLIN), resistance status, coverage and pre-intervention transmission level.

The basis model features are displayed in a graphic of the useful lifetime of a single ITN distribution. As the nets age, the insecticide in the net wears out and the number of holes in the nets increases. These factors combine to limit the useful lifetime a single net distribution. Note that the slight bump in the baseline malaria level after the net distribution is no longer in effect is real: the cases averted and decreased exposure during the viable net distribution decreases immunity. With no other intervention, the episodes per person over time returns to the baseline level.

With the most resistant mosquito population, the LLIN mass distribution averted up to about 40% fewer episodes and DALYs during the effective lifetime of the batch than with fully susceptible populations. However, cost effectiveness of LLINs was more sensitive to the pre-intervention transmission level and coverage than to mosquito susceptibility status. For four out of the six Anopheles gambiae sensu lato populations where direct comparisons between standard LLINs and combination LLINs were possible, combination nets were more cost effective, despite being more expensive. With one resistant population, both net types were equally effective, and with one of the two susceptible populations, standard LLINs were more cost effective.

Despite being less effective when compared to areas with susceptible mosquito populations, standard and combination LLINs are likely to still be cost effective against malaria even in areas with strong pyrethroid resistance.

So, well done you! for contributing to this work.
30 Jul 2013 14:20:10 UTC · Comment


Science update part II: till March 2013
Dear malariacontrol.net member,

As promised, here is the second of our three part update on the science of malariacontrol.net. We look at some cost effectiveness analyses that were only possible with your donated cpu cycles.

Mass drug administration (MDA), where the entire population is treated with antimalarial drugs, and mass screening and treatment (MSAT), which involves screening the whole population of interest and only treating those who test positive, are two strategies that may have the potential to reduce P. falciparum malaria burden. Although it is more complex to organize, one would prefer to use MSAT in order to avoid over-use of drugs and contributing to the spread of drug resistance. But is MSAT likely to be a good use of resources, and if so, where? Can we put a number on it?

Decision makers need comparable information on both the effects and cost of interventions. With your help, simulations have been run to try to quantify the incremental cost per unit health gain from well-designed MSAT campaigns in different health systems and transmission settings.

For this analysis the outcome measure was the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), expressed as dollars per malaria case averted. Cases averted by MSAT were obtained using simulation results from malariacontrol.net and costs estimated from an economic model using literature on the costs of similar interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. The calculated ICER results were compared to the ICERs of increasing case management or insecticide-treated net (ITN) coverage in each setting. Here by case management we mean doctor’s visits, hospitalization when needed and follow up care.


As you can see in the graphic, the incremental savings of each method depended very much the baseline transmission level [ recall last week’s post on EIR]. This figure suggests that MSAT was most cost-effective in settings with a moderate disease burden.


The results of your simulations showed that at low transmission MSAT was never more cost-effective than scaling up ITNs or case management and is probably not worth considering. Instead, MSAT may be more suitable at medium to high transmission levels and at moderate ITN coverage. In these settings, the cost-effectiveness of MSAT may be comparable to that of scaling up case management and ITN coverage. In all the transmission settings considered, achieving a minimal level of ITN coverage is a best buy. An interesting finding, and one that merits further investigation, is that achieving 80% ITN coverage across all settings, as per current global malaria strategies, may not be an efficient use of resources, particularly in low-transmission settings.

This study suggests that policy-makers may want to consider MSAT to reduce the malaria burden as they choose among interventions for their populations. It also shows how the malaria models can be used to simulate combinations of interventions and generate estimates of their relative cost-effectiveness. We intend to build on this type of work in the future.

If you would like more detail on this work, see the paper by Valerie Crowell and others Modelling the cost-effectiveness of mass screening and treatment for reducing Plasmodium falciparum malaria burden.

Again, thanks for all your volunteered CPU cycles – we couldn’t do it without you.
30 Jul 2013 13:27:11 UTC · Comment


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