News / Health

US Promotes Active Surveillance in Global Fight Against Malaria

Children living in the Thai-Burma border come to a malaria clinic to get tested in Sai Yoke district, Kanchanaburi Province, October 26, 2012.
Children living in the Thai-Burma border come to a malaria clinic to get tested in Sai Yoke district, Kanchanaburi Province, October 26, 2012.
Jessica Berman
In the 13 years since the United Nations first marked April 25 as World Malaria Day, dramatic progress has been made in preventing, controlling and treating this deadly tropical disease.  Experts believe that with improved surveillance and more diligent treatment efforts, the disease could be soon be eradicated.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, is playing a major role in those malaria eradication efforts.

The CDC, headquartered in Atlanta, conducts scientific research and provides technical support to countries around the world on how to deal with malaria, a leading cause of illness and death in many of the countries affected by this mosquito-borne disease.

"The CDC has documented that in some of these communities, one out of every four medical visits of children was for malaria.  One out of every two units of blood used for transfusion was for malaria.  And in communities where they have implemented good control measures, we’ve seen essentially zero cases of malaria with good control and zero deaths.  So we know tremendous progress is possible,” said Tom Frieden, director of the CDC.

But in 10 countries with the highest incidence of malaria, experts say more resources are needed to prevent a resurgence of the illness.

Testifying before the U.S. Congress this week on his agency’s role in global disease eradication,  Frieden said the challenge in the fight against malaria, which in Africa alone kills one child every minute, is staying one step ahead of the malaria parasite.

Frieden cited the need for better public health surveillance, and urged Congress to fund better detection tools.  

He held up for lawmakers a diagnostic computer chip capable of separating and then sorting through the billions of "letters" in the malaria microbe’s genetic alphabet, giving doctors critical information in a mere four hours.

“There are actually more than 10 million individual wells on this chip.  We can take the fragments of DNA and with the supercomputer, put them back together like a jigsaw puzzle with tens of thousands of pieces to figure out where the connections are, whether it’s resistant, how it’s spreading and whether it’s becoming more virulent,” Frieden said.

Other challenges in the war on malaria, according to Frieden, are developing effective malaria vaccines and maintaining the integrity of artemisinin, the most effective drug available to treat malaria.  The parasite has developed resistance to other drugs that used to be considered certain cures for the disease.

But some 30 percent of malaria cases in Southeast Asia now show evidence of resistance to artemisinin.  Virtually every new drug in the pipeline, according to the CDC director, is either an artemisinin-related product or synthetic artemisinin, and if malaria treatment programs are not well-organized and controlled, the effectiveness of these new drugs also could be compromised.

So, Frieden told members of Congress, a critical weapon in the war on malaria is ensuring that artemisinin is used wisely so it continues to be effective.

“I think you can think of drug resistance and prevention of drug resistance as something we owe the world,  we owe our children.  If these antibiotics that we’ve been bequeathed by people who worked so hard to come up with them are preserved, they can be used to protect lives for many years going forward,” Frieden said.

Frieden added that eradicating the mosquito-borne illness by 2015 will require unflinching policy commitments and sustained funding by the international community.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs