News / Health

Controlling Malaria Improves Health, Boosts Economy

FILE - A young girl with malaria rests in the inpatient ward of the Malualkon Primary Health Care Center in Malualkon, in the South Sudanese state of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal, June 1, 2012.
FILE - A young girl with malaria rests in the inpatient ward of the Malualkon Primary Health Care Center in Malualkon, in the South Sudanese state of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal, June 1, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization (WHO) says malaria is preventable, treatable and can be defeated.  In marking World Malaria Day, which falls on April 25, WHO says investing in malaria control pays big dividends in terms of improved health and economic development.  

Malaria is a major cause of death and illness.  Globally, the World Health Organization reports some 3.3 billion people are at risk of this disease, primarily in Africa.   

Although malaria  - a mosquito-borne parasitic infection of the blood - is preventable and treatable, WHO notes it continues to infect more than 200 million people and kill an estimated 660,000 every year.  Most of these deaths are among children under the age of five, 90 percent of whom are in Africa.  

But, these painful statistics belie the enormous advances that are being made in malaria control.  The United Nations reports the MDG or Millennium Development Goal target of halting and reversing the incidence of malaria is now in sight.  It says 50 countries are on track to reduce their malaria burden by at least 75 percent by 2015.

WHO’s Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, says malaria control interventions are effective when used in an integrated manner.  She says prevention, rapid diagnosis and treatment measures must all be available at the same time.

“So that you use bed nets or spraying the houses so that you bring down the density of the vector [disease carrier]," said Nafo-Traore. "Then you reduce the transmission of the disease.  While doing prevention, you need to continue treating those who are affected.  And to be able to treat them, you need to diagnose.”  

WHO notes these global anti-malaria efforts have succeeded in preventing 1.1 million deaths and averting 274 million cases between 2001 and 2010.  WHO reports 14 endemic countries (countries where malaria thrives) account for 80 percent of all malaria cases, with 40 percent of the malaria burden in three countries - the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and India.

Dr. Nafo-Traore says progress in controlling malaria is slowing because the funding is drying up.  She says an annual shortfall of $3 billion is starting to slow the scale-up of key malaria interventions in Africa.

She says $3.6 billion is needed immediately to be able to maintain universal coverage of malaria control interventions in Africa through 2015.  

Studies show malaria places an enormous burden on African economies, resulting in massive losses to economic growth.   

Dr. Nafo-Traore says investing in malaria means investing in development.  She says the return is high and cost is low.  

“Personally, I do not see a best investment than this one," she said. "If you put $1 in malaria control, the return on investment is $46 U.S.  If you look at the cost to prevent, to treat and to diagnose…It is $5.5, yup $5.5 U.S.”  

Among the most serious challenges ahead is the emerging resistance of the malaria parasite to drugs, and mosquitoes to insecticides.    The U.N. health agency is worried that growing resistance to Artemisnin-based Combination Therapies, the most effective anti-malarials on the market, is emerging in Asia-Pacific.  

The World Health Organization warns hard won gains in combating malaria could unravel, if resistance were to spread to other regions.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs