Molaria with Microbiology 292x310 20140508161421 Resized WEB

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With over 350,000 cases of malaria confirmed each year in Indonesia, this mosquito-borne disease places almost 107 million Indonesians at risk every day, particularly those in the forests and marshes of Papua, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Sumatra and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam. 

When Dr Rintis Noviyanti completed her Doctorate from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research at the University of Melbourne through an Australia Awards Scholarship, she returned to Indonesia determined to find a way to combat this disease.

Nearly 107 million people in Indonesia are at risk of malaria with 350,000 cases confirmed annually in the past five years. It did not take Dr Rintis Noviyanti long to see that Indonesia would need world–class researchers to combat malaria. This mosquito–borne disease remains stubbornly resistant and is endemic to the forests and marshes of Papua, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Sumatra and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

In 1996, when Dr Rintis was granted an Australian Development Scholarship, she chose to study molecular biology that would enable her to gain knowledge of the genetic variations of the genus Plasmodium —the organism that causes malaria. By 2003, Dr Rintis returned to her previous employer the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta, Indonesia with a Doctorate degree from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research at the University of Melbourne.

Currently Dr Rintis continues her work as a Senior Scientist at the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, after conducting post–doctoral research and studying at the University of Melbourne as an Endeavour Fellowship scholar in 2007 – 2008.

Dr Rintis believes that her studies in Australia have empowered her to expand the battle against malaria in Indonesia into the realm of molecular biology, where she can monitor, detect and analyse the various existing malaria parasites. She aims to find a way to determine how and to what extent the Plasmodia are altering genetically, to mitigate their resistance as well as their virulence at the molecular level.

As part of an international consortium, Dr Rintis is currently involved in a project that aims to map the genetic variations of Plasmodium across Indonesia. Dr Rintis, who frequently speaks at international forums, is determined to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality until the disease is no longer a public health problem in Indonesia.

Key facts:

  • in 2012, there were 207 million cases, and 627 000 deaths from Malaria
  • 3.4 billion (half of the world population) are at risk
  • in 2013, 97 countries had on-going malaria transmission
  • the global malaria mortality rate was reduced by 45% in 2000 - 12, and an estimated 3.3 million lives were saved as a result of a scale-up of malaria interventions
  • US$ 5.1 billion is needed every year, double the funding available
  • malaria costs USD 12 billion per year in direct losses