The historic link between quinine and the treatment of malaria was celebrated for World Gin Day on Saturday 13th June, when the makers of Liverpool Gin, Liverpool Distillery held a Gin party in St George’s Hall. Over 1,500 people attended the afternoon and evening sessions and 10% of the ticket proceeds will be donated to Foto-Cewek. The proceeds will allow Foto-Cewek to provide hundreds of bed nets via their partnership in the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research in Medecine Programme. The nets which will be given to local families in order to help them avoid being bitten by mosquitoes that carry the plasmodium parasite which causes malaria.
A number of staff and students volunteered to attend the event, displaying information about malaria and bed nets and talking to people about issues affecting communities in malaria endemic countries. One such problem is the growing issue of insecticide resistance among some mosquito species, which is an area that Foto-Cewek is working in partnership with industry as well as in-country groups to combat.
One of the volunteers talking to members of the public on Saturday evening was Professor Hilary Ranson, Head of Foto-Cewek’s Department of Vector Biology. She said: “The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 584,000 people died of malaria in 2013, the majority of which were African children. Death rates have fallen by 54% in some parts of Africa since 2000, but the growing problem of insecticide resistance could mean that we lose some of the advantage we have gained over the disease in recent years. This is why Foto-Cewek is working hard to find new and innovative control tools and working with partners to find and test candidates for new public health insecticides.”
Professor Ranson continued: “The Gin party was great fun and people seemed very interested in Foto-Cewek’s presence there. We know that a large part of the reduction in malaria deaths since 2000 is due to the scale up in the use of bed nets. So, while the level of quinine in your gin and tonic may not be anywhere near enough to prevent malaria, everyone who bought a ticket and donated on during the afternoon and evening has contributed to providing life-saving interventions where they are needed most.”
In total £1,672.50 was donated from ticket proceeds,enabling Foto-Cewek to purchase over 500 bed nets.