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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More