On Thursday, December 15, 2011, Dr. William R. Jobin delivered the annual Pardee Distinguished Lecture sponsored by the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at the Boston University. Students and faculty from BU and elsewhere filled the room for the lecture, which was held at BU’s Hillel House.
Dr. Jobin is an engineer and an expert in the prevention and control of malaria and other diseases. He has more than 40 years of experience in field work related to malaria control in Africa and other parts of the world. Early in his career, he worked for health and development agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, before founding the consulting firm, Blue Nile Associates, in 1984. In his work at Blue Nile, he specializes in environmental assessment and improvement of existing and proposed development projects in the Tropics, based on requirements for protecting human health, water quality, and agricultural land uses.
In his lecture, titled, “WHO Controls the Future of Disease: Agroecology, Hydropower, and Malaria,” Dr. Jobin cited dwindling global funds for malaria and disease prevention, and was critical of what he called “unsustainable” and “emphemeral” efforts to address malaria by distributing drugs, bednets, and biocides – all of which need to be supplied on an annual basis at significant costs. He advocated that global development and health organizations should be focused on “permanent” solutions such as understanding which crops and agricultural practices attract mosquitoes and then help to change crop plantings and practices accordingly. He also suggested that all homes and other buildings should be required to have window and door screens, and that drainage methods should be used to keep water away from houses and other structures.
He also said there are there are technical improvements that could be made to the design and operation of dams to avoid attracting mosquitoes and those methods should be mandated in the design and operation of new structures. This approach is critical to capitalizing on the limited available funds, he argued.
The lecture concluded with a lively discussion with audience members on the possibilities of sustainable malaria control.