Monday, 18 February 2008

Malaria kills more people - and far, far more kids - than Aids!

Trial and error - the war on malaria
Malaria invades 500m people a year and kills as many every day as al-Qaeda did in New York on 11 September 2001 in the Twin Towers attack. More than 90 per cent of the disease's 1m annual victims die in Africa, the vast majority of them under the age of five.
Read about Pedro Alonso, a Spanish doctor who has conducted remarkably successful initial trials in Mozambique over the past five years and who has spent his career working on malaria all over Africa. This is the funding provided by the Bill and Melinds Gates Foundation in action. But the latest and best drug is Coartem. This combines a natural product derived from the Artemisin plant, originally found in China, with a chemical compound. Yet we know that at any moment we will be surprised, that the parasite will have come up with a defence and that we will have to find a new weapon. If we fall asleep, the enemy will be at our door.' 'One of our greatest enemies is ignorance. One big problem is people's belief in traditional healers, who tell them the illness is a sort of curse created by a djinni, or ghost, that only they are able to address. By the time the convulsions set in, and it is now clear to the parents of a sick child that the traditional cures have not worked, it is often too late,'Logistics also means getting the drugs and, critically in recent years, mosquito bednets to outlying areas where roads are practically non-existent. The emergence of increasingly efficient, washable, insecticide-treated bednets - the fruit of extensive research done in part by Pedro Alonso in the Nineties - has had a big impact in reducing malaria deaths.
What African poverty means,is that parents are often confronted with a desperate choice. 'If you live far from a town and your child falls sick in a season when a subsistence farming family must sow the fields. 'Do you take the child on a trip to a health centre that costs you a lot of money , and takes up one or two days there and back, knowing that by so doing you leave the fields unsown and the family hungry? Or do you leave the child to die?' This is reality!
This is a long article but it is excellent and revises the current situation beautifully. Take your time and persevere reading it, even over a few attempts or print it out and use the names and the final exam – impress the markers! Click the photo for the article.

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