Malaria research in the Greater Mekong Subregion: an overview.
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) has low transmission of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax and is a prime region for malaria elimination based on evidence. The extent of GMS based research is unknown. Pub Med-identified research articles from the GMS were selected based on defined criteria and classified into 24 research areas. A research questionnaire was sent to WHO country offices, national malaria control programs (NMCPs), national research institutes and non governmental organizations (NGOs). Two thousand eight hundred ninety of 3,319 identified publications were included, dating from 1933 to June 2012; 1,485 (51.8%) of 2,890 since 2000. Ten research areas accounted for 2,264 (78.3%) publications: drug resistance 12.8% (n=371), entomology 11.42% (n=330), clinical trials 10.45% (n=302), pathophysiology 9.34% (n=270), epidemiology 8.96% (n=259), pharmacology 6.06% (n=175), parasite biology 5.19% (n=150), malaria control 4.88% (n=141), diagnosis/diagnostics 4.6% (n=133) and clinical studies 4.6% (n=133). Thailand produced most publications, 1,684 (58.27%), followed by Viet Nam (365, 12.63%), Cambodia (139, 4.81%), Myanmar (132, 4.57%), Yunnan Province, China (124, 4.3%) and Lao PDR (79, 2.73%). Other publications were multicountry, including >or=1 GMS country (n=269), or reviews (n=98). Publication numbers increased significantly over time. Eleven questionnaires were received. Principal research areas were treatment seeking behavior, knowledge, attitude and practice surveys, bed net use, access to treatment by migrants, and malaria diagnostics. Research in GMS is broad. Biomedical research dominates peer reviewed publications. NMCP and NGOs focus more on downstream malaria implementation issues. The challenge is to engage GMS research capacity to build quality evidence for malaria elimination.