Thursday, June 30, 2011

Future For Malaria Eradication Is Looking Positive

Lately there has been rather gloomy talk of the economic recession and its affects on the money available for global aid. A great deal of aid has decreased. However, on the positive side, according to a report on the state of malaria research on Tuesday, investment has more than quadrupled in the last sixteen years.

Malaria is a serious health burden, killing over 750,000 small children a year in developing countries. The disease was neglected in many countries for decades, but this moment is worth quoting because it is a rare moment of great news:

"A dramatic increase in support for R&D since the mid 1990's means funders are now well on the way to achieving global malaria control, treatment and elimination goals and, with maintained commitment, should reap the rewards in the next five to six years."

Six major organizations conducted the report, including Malaria Vaccine Initiative and Malaria Venture. They found that in a few short years, the roll-out of bed nets to protect against mosquito bites at nigh, indoor spraying with insecticide and better access to good treatment has enabled 40 countries to decrease the amount of malaria deaths by 50%. In fact, some countries have eliminated malaria completely. Morocco, South Africa and Swaziland are all great examples.

"This has put it in the mind of all people that it is possible to defeat this disease and have, one day, a malaria free world."

There remain hurdles. Such as sustaining finance and the possible resistance to the only drug that works well - artemisinin - which is found on the Thai/Cambodian border. There also remains the issue of maintaining a strong partnership between all the countries and the organizations involved.

Yes, there is much more to be done, but eradication no longer seems like a distant dream.

-Gabrielle Gurian