Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases which continuously affects millions of people worldwide. Specifically, cases of the disease are often found in Africa and in other developing nations in the region. In order to know more and possibly help eradicate Malaria, Land Rover has teamed up with the Mobile Malaria Project, winners of the 2018 Land Rover Bursary in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society, to embark on an eight week trip to Africa.
The team is comprised of three Oxford University researchers and will be going through the countries of Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, and Kenya. They will be doing more than 6,300 km of driving in a specially modified Land Rover Discovery which will help them do research and transport equipment needed, as well as investigate cases on the go.
“The loan of the Discovery not only gives us the capability we need to visit locations we might not have been able to reach otherwise, it gives us the space and versatility to transport the equipment we need. This will allow us to gain a better understanding of how this technology could be used to answer locally relevant questions about malaria parasites and the mosquitoes that transmit them,” said Dr. George Busby, Mobile Malaria Project Expedition Leader.
Developed by Land Rover Special Vehicles Operations, the special Discovery has been fitted with a mobile genetic sequencing laboratory. It also features a fridge/freezer unit to store scientific supplies, a bespoke load space configuration frame system, specially-designed storage equipment spaces, and an onboard expedition battery.
External changes were made as well. It now features a purpose-built dual sun awning, rescue equipment, mud tires and LED driving lamps.
The modifications made to the Discovery will allow the team to test portable DNA sequencing technology in collaboration with African research centers. This would help provide important information about the malaria parasite and mosquito populations, including drug and insecticide resistance.