Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Good News on World Health

Prevalence of Malaria

I quote from The Guardian:
The number of children under the age of five dying from malaria has halved since 2000 and is predicted to fall still further over the next two years, according to the World Health Organisation's flagship report on the disease. 
Between 2000 and 2012, malaria deaths among under-fives fell by 51%, says the 2013 world malaria report, published on Wednesday. Across all age groups, global deaths fell by an estimated 45%. If the trend continues, deaths will fall by 63% for children under five and by 56% for all ages by 2015, big steps towards meeting global targets to reduce malaria cases and mortality rates. 
The report estimates that 3.3m malaria deaths have been averted since 2001, more than two-thirds in the 10 countries with the highest number of malaria cases in 2000. About 3m of those deaths would have been among children under five living in sub-Saharan Africa.
After World War II it was thought that malaria could be eradicated. I think that might have been technically feasible, although the long term persistence of a species of the agent of the disease had not been realized. The greater problem was probably the ability to manage effective programs by weak governments and the ability to sustain the political will to finance and support the effort for many years.

The effort failed, and the fall back position of control of malaria allowed for millions upon millions of deaths over the decades. Some fairly large areas of the world suffered hyperendemic malaria for decades.

It was also noted that the vertical campaign organizational structure seemed inefficient, and more integrated primary health services might control malaria while also attacking other major killers.

We still await a malaria vaccine and the development of backup drugs against the disease if those now in use prove ineffective. Still, the news is good!

Check out WHO's World Malaria Report 2013.

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