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About the Author

Bart Knols
Medical Entomologist (Dodewaard, Netherlands)

Bart G.J. Knols (1965) is the Managing Director of MalariaWorld, the world's first scientific and social network for malaria professionals. He is a malariologist with a Masters degree in Biology and a PhD in Medical Entomology from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. He also obtained an MBA degree from the Open University (UK) in 2006, for which he won the prestigious international ‘MBA Student of the Year 2007 Award’ as well as the Alumnus of the Year Award from the Open University. With 11 years of working experience in Africa he has managed large-scale research and vector control programmes on malaria for ministries, international or national research institutions. He has worked for the UN (IAEA) as a programme manager for three years, has served as a consultant for the World Health Organization, and is currently a Board Member of the UBS Optimus Foundation, the second largest charity in Switzerland. He has published over 130 peer-reviewed research articles, has written 16 book chapters, and has served as senior editor on a WHO/IAEA sponsored book on implementation research. In 2007 he co-edited a best-selling book titled 'Emerging Pests and Vector-Borne Diseases in Europe'. He received an Ig Nobel Prize (2006), an IAEA Special Service Award (2006), and in 2007 he became a laureate of the Eijkman medal (the highest award in the field of tropical medicine in the Netherlands). He has been a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2004. Bart held an Assistant Professorship at Wageningen University until April '09 with projects across Africa. He currently directs K&S Consulting, a firm he founded in the beginning of 2007.


Thank you, Cheryl

Published 06th July 2010 - 25 comments - 6219 views -

cheryl cole27-Year old singer Cheryl Cole grabbed the headlines yesterday when it surfaced that she contracted malaria. 

Thank you, Cheryl. 

Although I feel sorry for her, there is a good side to seeing superstars go down with disease, as it makes the world think for just a second about that disease. Better still if this is a disease of the developing world, like malaria.

Such events are good opportunities to raise awareness about neglected diseases. Too bad though that even one of UK’s most reputable news sources, The Guardian, still hasn’t figured out that malaria is caused by a parasite, not by a virus. The Metro did a much better job and described malaria in more detail today. Within 24 hours, a Google search 'Cheryl Cole malaria' returned more than 43 thousand hits.

Cole apparently contracted the disease during a recent vacation in Tanzania. She collapsed during a photo shoot yesterday after which it was discovered that she was infected with the deadliest form of the disease.

We’re blessed with the fact that mosquitoes do not discriminate, and have similar appetite for the rich as well as the poor, for the superstar singer as well as for shower-singers like you and me.

The good thing about this is that Cheryl will likely use her circles to talk about malaria. She may even join an awareness campaign and lobby for more research or funding for controlling the disease. Thank you, Cheryl.

Perhaps we should train mosquitoes to become more attracted to the rich and famous. It would certainly help. Yesterday, some three thousand children died of malaria in Africa. It is likely that a girl with the name Cheryl was amongst these latest victims. If not, than maybe today, as another three thousand children will succumb before this day is over.

Here’s a few famous individuals that succumbed to malaria:

President George Washington

Alexander the Great

Genghis Khan

King Tutankhamen

Fausto Coppi

More famous victims here.


Category: Health | Tags: africa, africa, malaria, awareness,


  • Bart Knols on 06th July 2010:

    Thanks Lara - indeed. Malaria is a bad disease witness, and of course I hope that Cheryl will recover fully. In a first class hospital, with first class care and phsyicians this is the only remaining contrast with a rural clinic somewhere in Africa, void of it all.

  • Luan Galani on 06th July 2010:

    As usual, nice post!
    The mistakes you pointed are preposterous. How can journalists do such things?!

    Let’s hope more involvement indeed.

  • Hussam Hussein on 06th July 2010:

    Indeed Lara, let’s hope that the media’s attention will go to this issue wink

  • Bart Knols on 07th July 2010:

    @Luan. It shows the ever increasing speed with which news needs to be generated, leading to errors. In fact, some of the blogs at TH!NK3 suffered the same, where more digging yielded different facts. Anyway…

    @Hussam. As of this morning, Google returns more than 55 thousand hits on ‘Cheryl Cole malaria’. Enough media attention I guess…

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 07th July 2010:

    Well done mosquitoes, for not discriminating! If that’s what it takes… sorry Cheryl. Bart, imagine we could really train the mosquitoes to attack the rich and the famous smile

  • Bart Knols on 07th July 2010:

    @Giedre…let me surprise you: I think we can…

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 07th July 2010:

    No way! smile Bart, as this is an online discussion, and I can’t see your expressions or hear your intonations and therefore judge on the amount of sarcasm in your words, please explain yourself. raspberry Are you talking about some scientific methods that I’m definitely not aware of, or simply about the fact that if more celebs travel around mosquito-infected areas, the percentage of them catching the disease would be higher?

  • Luan Galani on 07th July 2010:

    We can?! Then, I think, it deserves to be transformed into a post =)

  • Bart Knols on 07th July 2010:

    @Giedre, @Luan. There was not a grain of sarcasm in my words when I wrote ‘I think we can…’. However, I am not sure if it wise for me to explain here openly how this can be done…sorry, you just have to take my word for it.

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 07th July 2010:

    “Can be done”... meaning it is not yet done, but is possible… Oh Bart you are showing a candy and then saying we cannot have it… smile Alright then, I take your word for it.

  • Bart Knols on 07th July 2010:

    @Giedre. Sorry…will tell you one day when we meet.

  • Bart Knols on 07th July 2010:

    Apparently the Guardian reads TH!NK3, as today they put a sentence under the article saying:

    This article was amended on 6 July. The original described malaria as a virus. This has been corrected.

    Thank you, Guardian

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 07th July 2010:

    I bet the reporter got a good deal of bad words from the editors smile

  • Clare Herbert on 07th July 2010:

    That was teh first thing I thought too: this will do wonders for awareness raising. Hope she feels better too.

  • Andrew Burgess on 07th July 2010:

    Funnily enough (and although it’s quite cold hearted for Ms Cole) when I heard the news I thought “brilliant the danger of Malaria will get some publicity”...

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 07th July 2010:


    Another interesting post reflecting deeply your passion for your work. Thanks for this. Yes, I do hope it raises awareness and ofcourse, I hope she gets well soon. This weekend, I will be going to a place plagued by Malaria in recent years. Hope to be able to update you and the rest of the THINK3 community.

  • Bart Knols on 07th July 2010:

    @Iris - thanks for comment. If you’re there, ask people if they would like to see malaria eliminated and how they think this can be done best… like ‘The Man who saved Brazil’ or through current approaches… Curious to see what will happen.

  • Bart Knols on 10th July 2010:

    ‘Cheryl Cole malaria’ in Google now returns 1,530.000 hits (by 10 July)...

  • Bart Knols on 26th July 2010:

    Thank you Cheryl - indeed, she is planning to go into fundraising for malaria control:

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 26th July 2010:

    This is good news Bart. Thanks for the update.

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 28th July 2010:

    nice info graphic I found by accident

  • Bart Knols on 29th July 2010:

    @Iwona - Thanks - If I remember correctly, the same graphic did come up in another blogpost early on… No harm though to repeat it here, thanks.

    Today’s news is that Cheryl is up and running again, going back to daily business. I hope she won’t forget this horrific experience that nearly cost her life and that she will truly do something about it…

  • Justin Mottershead on 29th July 2010:

    While I appreciate the nature of this post and all the comments, I can’t share everyone’s positivity surrounding it.
    Many people in Britain- and believe me I know a few- will look at this whole episode and think “Cheryl Cole got a life-threatening disease in Africa? I’m never going there!”
    For all the good it does for malaria charities I feel it will have a negative affect on tourism.

  • Bart Knols on 30th July 2010:

    @Justin - that’s an interesting perspective on this whole matter. However, we don’t know what protective measures Cheryl took when she travelled to Tanzania. In all likelihood she did not take the right prophylaxis or did not stick to the regimen prescribed. Or did not continue long enough after she returned back to the UK.

    There is no reason to be afraid to travel to any place in Africa if you stick to the right medication. That’s a message that Cheryl should transmit and the effects on tourism may then be minimal.

    But, in the end I agree that such a happening will deter quite a few people from travelling. Mind you, you can contract malaria on 40% of the planet’s surface, so that really reduces the options for travel…

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