News / Health

Despite Gains in Controlling Malaria, Drug Resistance Remains a Concern

Gains Made In Controlling Malaria, But Concerns Grow About Drug Resistancei
X
Carol Pearson
April 24, 2014 12:30 AM
Malaria is a disease that kills more than 600,000 people every year. It debilitates even more. Each year on World Malaria Day, we take stock of the disease, what’s been done to contain it, and what still needs to be done. As VOA's Carol Pearson reports, medical scientists have made huge gains in controlling malaria, but may face a perilous game-changer
Carol Pearson
Malaria is a disease that kills more than 600,000 people every year.  It debilitates even more.  Each year on World Malaria Day, we take stock of the disease, what’s been done to contain it, and what still needs to be done.  

Children are the most likely victims of malaria.  They live in Latin America and Asia, but mostly in sub-Saharan Africa where the most deadly strain of the disease is found.

Dr. Anthony Fauci heads the infectious diseases division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

"About every 60 seconds a baby dies from malaria; usually a baby living in sub-Saharan Africa," said Fauci.

Survivors may suffer permanent brain damage, epilepsy, blindness or hearing loss.
Malaria

-About 3.3 billion people, half the world's population, are at risk of malaria
-People living in the poorest sub-tropical and tropical countries are the most susceptible
-Caused by mosquito-borne parasite
-Killed 627,000 people in 2012, mostly African children
-Kills by restricting blood flow to vital organs
-Symptoms include fever, headache and vomiting

Source: WHO
Mosquitoes don't cause malaria. But a certain type - the anopheles mosquito - can transmit a parasite that does.  And someone with malaria then can pass the parasite on to uninfected mosquitoes and the cycle continues.

Dr. Peter Agre at The Johns Hopkins University says malaria is a disease of the poor.

"They're sick because they're poor and they're poor because they're sick," said Agre.

Dr. Agre heads The Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute.  He says developed countries rid themselves of malaria by draining swamps, using screens on porches, and constructing buildings in higher elevations where mosquitoes that carry the parasite don't live.  People in poor countries can't do that.

A new push to contain malaria is under way. Funds for bed nets, insecticide spray, testing and medicine to treat malaria have cut the death rate from malaria by as much as 50 percent.  Dr. Agre says much more needs to be done.
Malaria mortality rates, by age groups, 2000-2012Malaria mortality rates, by age groups, 2000-2012
x
Malaria mortality rates, by age groups, 2000-2012
Malaria mortality rates, by age groups, 2000-2012
“At The Johns Hopkins Malaria Institute, scientists work on many aspects of the malaria problem. The mosquitoes are one part of that, and one of our most successful areas of research," he said.

Researchers are trying to change the mosquito so it can't transmit malaria.  Dr. Fauci says other research involves developing new medicines and a vaccine.

"We have been frustrated over many years of not having a highly effective vaccine against malaria," he said.

Along the Thai-Cambodian border, drugs used to treat malaria take longer to work.  That's generally the first sign the parasite has developed drug resistance.  If it spreads, researchers predict millions of people will die.

"The real critical thing that we’re hoping for is with a combination of treatment, combination of prevention like bed nets and others, and a combination of a good vaccine, that some day, we can’t predict when, we may be able to eliminate malaria and essentially eradicate it," said Fauci.

This would help the world's poorest children, their families and entire countries.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid