'Ending malaria means empowerment and equity’
Raquel Gonzalez, Assistant Research Professor at ISGlobal, has dedicated her career to helping ensure pregnant women and children survive malaria. Now, she shares why we need to take stronger action than ever to end malaria in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
As a medical intern, Raquel spent six months in Mozambique working on a clinical study of malaria. “It was a turning point in my professional and personal life,” she says, “I could see the benefits of research, of developing treatments and prevention strategies.”
The toll of malaria on pregnant women and children particularly affected Raquel.
“It is estimated that more than 11 million women are exposed to malaria during pregnancy in Africa. I decided to continue working in malaria, in order to improve the health of children and pregnant women, who are actually the most vulnerable to malaria.”
Since 2006, Raquel has devoted her work to clinical studies of malaria in pregnancy, as well as epidemiology – as a study field coordinator, project manager and investigator of several studies. Currently, Raquel is an Assistant Research Professor at ISGlobal, where she coordinates several studies and clinical trials which aim to improve the health of African pregnant women.
"We have the tools, we know how to end malaria. Now’s the moment to do it."
“What I do in the field of malaria research is design clinical studies, for instance to test and evaluate the efficacy and safety of new drugs – for prevention and treatment of malaria for the most vulnerable.”
For example, her studies helped prove how a community-based approach involving community health workers has improved pregnant women’s access to regular malaria treatment at antenatal appointments, protecting them against malaria.
Raquel has a top tip to share for women living in a malaria-endemic country: “A pregnant woman should attend antenatal care services as soon as she knows or suspects she is pregnant in order to receive the full package of interventions.” The package includes malaria prevention treatment to take, as well as an insecticide treated bed net.
Raquel believes that ending malaria for good is not only possible, but that we have the tools and the power to do it, even in the wake of COVID-19.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of deaths and malaria episodes have increased in the last year – due to disruption in services and healthcare. We are in front of a crisis – we know we have the tools, we know how to end malaria. Now’s the moment to do it.”
“It is important to end malaria because it means we are talking about economic empowerment, equity.”
Together, we can end malaria and improve maternal health, economic opportunities and so much more. Join the movement.