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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora