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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.