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

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid