Asia-Pacific Malaria Hero winner: Sara Canavati

About the Award

Asia Pacific countries are embarking on the realization of a historic commitment to eliminate malaria from the entire region by 2030. This will require the coordinated actions of policy-makers and advocates, researchers, health workers and the whole of society. This award category highlights the individuals across the Asia Pacific region who use social media most effectively to promote the elimination goal and showcase the excellent work of the anti-malaria campaign.


About Sara Canavati

Dr. Canavati is a research scientist at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Cambodia. She has conducted research throughout Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, and southern China for the last twelve years. She now focuses on one of the greatest threats in global health today: artemisinin and multidrug resistant malaria. 

Dr. Canavati’s research has been published in multiple journals, including the New England Journal of Health and Malaria Journal. Her interest in malaria is motivated by personal experience with her malaria patients, and the devastating impact this disease has on their lives. 

Dr. Canavati is a passionate advocate for malaria elimination online. She actively contributes to several malaria-related social media groups including the World Federation of Parasitologists Facebook page, as well as maintaining active Facebook and Twitter accounts, sharing regional malaria news and resources with colleagues.

Sara Canavati combines significant technical expertise with passionate advocacy, bridging the divide between her frontline work in the Asia-Pacific region and those removed from the daily tragedy of this disease. Her colleagues view her personal Facebook page acts as a “closed group” for malaria advocates in the region. 

Dr. Canavati is a strong advocate for social media as an essential tool in this effort: “Scientists can benefit enormously by using social media to promote their own work and stay current in other scientists’ work…social media is a powerful tool to engage non-science audiences in malaria control and elimination. It is a very rewarding activity that all scientists should get more involved in” (source).

Read Cameron Conaway’s profile of Dr. Canavati for more details on her work.


Selected comments from supporters 

Lightly edited for clarity 

  • “In the heartland of artemisinin resistance, Sara has walked the long and muddy paths to find the next person with malaria. In the nearby clinic, she has been seated beside an old lady dying of congestive cardiac failure (found incidentally to locating people with malaria). A week later, she has been in an academic meeting presenting world-leading research findings on malaria drug treatment. In the evenings she is on social media spreading the word about malaria to a world that is often not only a thousand miles away in distance, but a thousand miles away in their thoughts and priorities. She has done much to bridge these different worlds.” (Jack Richards)
  • “Sara has used Facebook as a powerful tool to disseminate the most recent malaria elimination information. She also shares lessons learned from the past on how malaria was eliminated in many countries. I have learned a lot from her posts.” (Thet Zin)
  • “Sara is tireless in championing the cause of malaria elimination and it shows. Her passion, energy and endless enthusiasm shines through in her social media activities and the information she shares with the global malaria community is both timely and always informative.” (Adam Aspinall)
  • “Dr. Sara Canavati is smart, and energetic—just the kind of person we need in the malaria elimination activities. She shares passionately and fervently on Facebook and Twitter her heart, expertise, youth, knowledge and jovial strength in promoting malaria elimination activities for the neediest places in South East Asia.” (Nancy de la T)
  • “Dr. Sara Canavati uses Facebook and Twitter superbly to promote the fight against malaria…a passionate warrior fighting for malaria elimination. Always passionate and sometimes intrepid, Dr. Canavati committed herself to spread the word through the media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Her programs on malaria elimination are very successful in South East Asia and create positive changes in other malaria programs worldwide.” (Anderson Williams) 


Check out Sara's interview with Tim France below, as well as the amazing custom illustration (click image for larger version):




About the Asia Pacific Award partner: APLMA

APLMA is high level political advocacy platform formed of Asian and Pacific heads of government. Its mandate is to accelerate progress against malaria and artemisinin resistance, with the target of eliminating the disease from the region by 2030. 

Follow updates from APLMA on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.


More about Sara Canavati 

Follow Sara on Twitter and Facebook