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Malaria Approaches Must Be Adjusted To Account For Local Contexts, ‘Changing Realities’

Noting “April 25 marks World Malaria Day, an opportunity for those who work to defeat the illness to review progress and renew commitments,” Laurence Slutsker and Patrick Kachur of the CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, write in a Malaria Journal opinion piece (.pdf), “After a decade of steady success, this year’s commemoration of the date is also an opportunity to reconsider current approaches and assess the state of the science needed to keep pace in the global effort to combat malaria.” They state, “With substantially increased funding for four key tools — insecticide-treated bed nets, effective treatment drugs, preventive treatment for pregnant women, indoor spraying of homes with insecticides — all of them grounded in strong science, more than a million lives have been saved,” and they continue, “These successes are encouraging, to say the least.”

“However, malaria still kills approximately 660,000 people each year, mostly children,” Slutsker and Kacher write, adding World Malaria Day’s “theme ‘Invest in the future. Defeat malaria,’ remind[s] the global community of the ultimate goal and the need to keep fighting.” They continue, “The challenge now is to know where people are being infected and tailor the tools that programs are using so that they are most effective,” and they discuss successful efforts to thwart the disease in Zambia. Slutsker and Kacher conclude, “Once it is known where people are being infected with malaria, approaches can be adjusted to match the need. With this, national malaria control programs and their development partners can adapt to changing realities and continue to save lives and improve people’s health. And the essential tools for prevention and treatment can be put to use where they will do the most good” (4/24).