Malaria Eradication: Is it Possible?

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According to studies on the progress of malaria eradication, it just might be possible to be rid of one of the top ten leading causes of death within the developing world. Can it truly be? Can humanity be rid of a disease that has plagued us and our children for so long, indefinitely?

The answer seems to be a big whopping Yes! It is possible to prevent 219 million people from dying each year, mostly children. However, that comes at a hefty price. Let’s consider some of the problems currently facing the eradication process, which has undoubtedly gained ground and nearly fully eliminated in 111 of the world’s countries.

The problems with eradicating Malaria, however, are numerous:

1. Malaria is still a widespread disease, despite efforts to contain it. In 2010, an estimated 219 million cases of malaria were reported and 660 000 people died in 98 countries.

2. The disease has begun to develop an immunity to drugs and insecticides that would normally destroy it, most especially in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Burma.

3. We travel the world today at alarming speeds and frequencies. It is near impossible to contain a disease when it can be reintroduced in a clean area once again, causing a new epidemic.

4. Not all malaria parasites are properly researched and new discoveries point to monkeys being a carrier of one of these, encountered in Borneo.

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5. Blame the wars and socio-economic causes for large scale migrations, which bring in malaria and disrupt any work undertaken to control and/or eradicate the disease.

6. Finally, one of the most frustrating problems faced are government cuts in funds allocated to the eradication and control of malaria, often allowing for the resurgence of the disease.

At the moment, as such, we are still plagued by this vicious disease. Unfortunately, Africa seems to be hit hardest by malaria parasites, amounting in one in six childhood deaths. It’s a small wonder the thought of the disease makes eyes pop with fear and run to the nearest safe zone.

To prevent contracting malaria:

• It is highly recommended to sleep under insecticide treated nets and to ensure there is access to prompt and effective treatment should any problems arise.

• It is highly advisable that people infected with HIV stay within malaria-free zones, as contact with the disease could accelerate the HIV progression into AIDS and increase risk of transmission between all individuals.

• Make sure you are well nourished and well hydrated. A strong immune system is recommended.
Malaria is most definitely curable, but only if treated within 24h of contraction.

Sources:
The Lancet Global Health, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages e2 - e3, July 2013
UNICEF in Action- April 2013

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