Reuters examines how the fight against malaria in Africa is helping to fuel the continent’s economic growth. “The number of malaria deaths has fallen dramatically in the last decade due to increased aid spending on basic items such as insecticide-treated bed nets and drugs, the World Health Organization (WHO) says,” the news agency writes, noting that an experimental vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline is showing prospect. The news agency discusses the efforts of AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s third largest gold producer, to prevent and treat malaria among its workers, which “‘made economic sense because of the absenteeism and the cost of medication,’ said Steve Knowles, the head of AngloGold’s anti-malaria operations.”
During a live webcast discussing recent changes at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “[p]anelists discussed the fund’s new strategy and what this strategy means for the global fight against these three diseases,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports. J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted the Global Fund’s new general manager, Gabriel Jaramillo, had moved quickly in focusing on restructuring and realigning the fund, according to the blog. Todd Summers, independent consultant and chair of the Strategy, Investment & Impact Committee at the Global Fund, said, “Now we see lots of opportunity to really make a big difference and change forever the trajectory” of the epidemics, “Global Pulse” notes.
“Two new task forces being [established] by U.S. Africa Command [Africom] have set their sights on one of the biggest killers on the continent: the mosquito,” the American Forces Press Service reports in an article on the U.S. Department of Defense webpage. “Ninety percent of the world’s malaria-related deaths are reported in Africa, and the disease kills some 600,000 African children each year,” the news service notes, adding, “Africom incorporates malaria prevention into much of its theater engagement, distributing mosquito nets and teaching new diagnostic techniques during training events throughout Africa.”
In this post in the Global Health Governance blog, Jenilee Guebert, director of research for the global health diplomacy program and G8 research group at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, writes that, “for the second year in a row, the amount of attention devoted to global health” at the annual G8 summit, which took place at Camp David in Maryland in May, has declined. “Global health was not completely absent from the summit,” she continues, highlighting several health initiatives discussed at the meeting, including the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched “to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture” with an aim of “lift[ing] 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade.”
“Two years after some $22 million in donor funds were pumped into malaria control along the Cambodia-Thailand border to fight off suspected resistance to treatment, health workers say the battle is not over,” IRIN reports, adding, “The government reported 103,000 malaria infections and 151 deaths nationwide in 2010. A year later, 85,000 reported infections led to 93 deaths — a 38-percent decline in mortality.” “‘If you take your foot off the â€¦ [accelerator] we can lose everything we have done in the past two to three years,’ Steven Bjorge, anti-malaria team leader in Cambodia for the [WHO], told IRIN in February 2012,” the news service writes.
Pacific Standard magazine examines efforts by researchers around the globe to biologically modify bugs to fight human diseases, such as dengue fever. “Biologically altering bugs isn’t entirely new; it’s been done for nearly half a century to protect crops. … It’s only recently, however, that scientists have begun experimenting with using this technology to combat human diseases,” the magazine writes, adding, “If they succeed, they could create an entirely new way of stopping not only dengue but other insect-borne scourges, such as yellow fever, West Nile virus, and malaria. And stopping these diseases has never been more urgent.”
“Pre-emptive treatment of children living in regions where [malaria] is prevalent only during the rainy season could avert 11 million cases and 50,000 deaths a year,” the journal Nature reports, adding, “The estimates are based on the world’s first guidance on seasonal malaria chemoprevention, issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March.” “‘One-size-fits-all policies, like bed nets, are great,’ explains Rob Newman, director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme in Geneva,” Nature writes. “But for policies with a number of requirements, we need these sorts of analyses to help policymakers chart the path forward,” he added, according to the journal. “Researchers think that parts of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger will emerge [as] the most promising candidates for seasonal chemoprevention according to three factors: malaria burden, predicted malaria seasonality and the efficacy of the drug combination sulphadoxine, pyrimethamine and amodiaquine (SP-AQ),” Nature adds (Maxmen, 6/6).
The Center for Global Health and Development (CGHD) at Boston University on Thursday delivered its report (.pdf) on the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), released in February, to the U.S. Congress, IIP Digital reports, noting the “independent evaluation team finds that the [PMI] has been ‘very successful’ in reducing children’s deaths from the mosquito-borne parasitic disease, but also warns that the program must gear up if those gains are to be sustained.” The news service adds, “The CGHD report recommends a re-evaluation of malaria prevention methods, including insecticide use, which, the researchers find, covers a fraction of the at-risk population at a high cost” (6/6).
More Affordable Bednets, Increased Transparency In Market Will Save $22M, UNICEF Executive Director Says
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said Wednesday “that a more transparent and competitive market will lead to savings of more than $20 million over the next 12 months through a price reduction of 20 percent for bednets that protect people from malaria,” a UNICEF press release reports, noting, “The price of an insecticide-treated, long-lasting bednet has dropped to under $3” (6/6). “‘Never before have bednets been as accessible and affordable for children and families in developing countries,’ said the Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division in Copenhagen, Shanelle Hall, adding that the price reduction is the result of a long-term strategy to create a healthy global market for bednets,” the U.N. News Centre writes (6/6).
Al Jazeera’s “Counting the Cost” program on Saturday focused on the fight against malaria and the “business behind its treatment and prevention.” According to the program, progress against malaria “is being threatened in these tough economic times. There is a $3 billion shortfall in funding for malaria treatment and prevention.” The program reports on drug-resistant malaria strains in South-East Asia; examines a vaccine candidate under development by GlaxoSmithKline; speaks with Jo Lines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Christoph Benn of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria about the impact of the international financial crisis on the fight against the disease; and discusses a mobile phone app developed by a group of medical students that would help people receive a quicker diagnosis and treatment (Santamaria, 5/26).