Possible to Eradicate Malaria, but Not with Flawed Vaccines: UN
The World Health Organization says it's theoretically possible to wipe out malaria, but probably not with the flawed vaccine and other control methods being used at the moment.
In a press briefing on Thursday, 22 August Alonso acknowledged that "with the tools we have today, it is most unlikely eradication will be achieved."
Alonso was presenting the results of a WHO-commissioned report evaluating if eradicating malaria should be pursued. He said the experts concluded lingering uncertainties meant they were unable to formulate a clear strategy and thus, couldn't propose a definitive timeline or cost estimate for eradication.
WHO has long grappled with the idea of erasing malaria from the planet. An eradication campaign was first attempted in 1955 before being abandoned more than a dozen years later.
For decades, health officials were chastened from even discussing eradication — until the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation threw its considerable resources behind the idea.
In 1988, WHO and partners began a global campaign that aimed to wipe out polio by 2000. Despite numerous effective vaccines and billions of invested dollars, efforts have stalled in recent years and officials have repeatedly missed eradication targets.
Although several African countries began immunizing children against malaria in national programs this year, the shot only protects about one third of children who get it. The parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people every year, mostly children in Africa.
Lister also raised concerns about whether malaria programs would be able to raise the billions needed given other competing eradication campaigns, like those for polio, guinea worm and lymphatic filariasis.
"Should we really be pushing for malaria or should we concentrate on getting some of those other diseases out of the way first?" he asked.
Other experts agreed that eradicating malaria in the coming years seems aspirational.
Still, Clarke said that eradication might only be achieved if there is a sense of urgency, given how malaria spreads; the parasitic disease is transmitted to people by mosquitoes.
"The longer it takes, the more opportunity there is for the parasite to evolve," she said.
“There will be a lot of pressure on the parasite to evolve a mechanism of survival, so this is something that if it's to be done, should be done relatively quickly."
(This story was published from a syndicated feed. Only the headline and picture has been edited by FIT)
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