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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid