News / Health

Progress Has Been Made In Containing Malaria, More Needs To Be Done

Progress Has Been Made In Containing Malaria, More Needs To Be Donei
X
April 25, 2013 12:59 AM
Malaria once afflicted people in nearly every country on the planet. Insecticides and eradication campaigns over the past century have contained this mosquito-borne parasitic disease to fewer than 100 countries. Yet in those mainly tropical countries where malaria is still prevalent, it kills more than half a million people each year, most of them children. VOA's Carol Pearson looks at the progress that's been made in controlling this devastating disease -- and the work still to be done.
Progress Has Been Made In Containing Malaria, More Needs To Be Done
Carol Pearson
Malaria once afflicted people in nearly every country on the planet. Insecticides and eradication campaigns over the past century have contained this mosquito-borne parasitic disease to fewer than 100 countries.  Yet in those mainly tropical countries where malaria is still prevalent, it kills more than 650,000 people each year, most of them children.

For every minute that goes by, a child under five years of age dies of malaria.

Malaria has been diagnosed on every continent, but sub-Saharan Africa is the region most afflicted.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads malaria research at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, calls the parasitic disease one of the world's worst killers.

“We’ve made substantial progress in a global community way with malaria because there are several countries that predict that by 2015 they will have substantially -- by more than 50 percent and up to 75 percent -- decreased the incidents of malaria. Having said that as the good news, the sobering news is that we still have 660,000 deaths per year from malaria,” Fauci said.

Multiple strategies have been used to fight malaria.  Bed nets treated with insecticide protect against mosquito bites.  Those infected are treated with drugs early before their disease turns deadly.  Pesticides are sprayed to control mosquito populations.

Researchers, including those at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, are working on changing the mosquito that transmits the parasite that causes malaria.

"We could stop this [disease] and control the mosquitoes by either eliminating them, which is very difficult to do, or by treating them to make them less effective in carrying the infection," said Dr. Peter Agee, the director of the malaria research program at Johns Hopkins.  

Agee says Johns Hopkins has had great success with the mosquito treatment strategy in Zambia, where its researchers are working with an established hospital.

"The burden of disease has been knocked down by 98 percent in a decade.  So we've gone from 1,500 children being admitted to the hospital each year to a couple dozen," Agee said.

But the success of the global anti-malaria campaign could also be its weakness, according to Dr. Fauci.

"My concern about even saying there’s good progress is that we have been here before, not only with malaria but with other diseases. When you start to see a down-tick in things, people say, 'Well, we have the process or the disease under control. We can move on to emphasizing other things'  -- which would be a really bad mistake," Fauci said.

Fauci notes there is no vaccine yet against malaria; mosquitoes that transmit it are becoming resistant to pesticides; and in some places, the malaria parasite is becoming resistant to the drug that treats it. Complacency and cuts in funding could allow malaria to reestablish itself in areas where it has been reduced or eliminated.  And the human stakes are still high: in the time it has taken for this report, three more children have died from malaria.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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