Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
On World Malaria Day, the World Health Organization is calling on countries to step up the fight against malaria, saying the coronavirus pandemic threatens to reverse important gains made in efforts to control this deadly disease.
Since 2000, the U.N.’s World Health Organization reports 1.5 billion malaria cases and 7.6 million deaths have been averted globally. Some of the greatest achievements were made in sub-Saharan Africa, which bears the brunt of this deadly disease spread by mosquitos.
Follow NewsGram on Twitter to stay updated about the World news.
Additionally, the director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Program, Pedro Alonso, said 21 countries have eliminated malaria over the last two decades. Of these, he says 10 have been officially certified as malaria-free by the WHO.
“That means that more than half of all the world’s endemic countries are within reach of elimination,” Alonso said. “At the beginning of the century, three countries had less than 10 cases per year. Now, we have 24 countries, which are literally one step away from elimination.”
Despite remarkable progress, however, the World Health Organization reports global gains have leveled off in recent years. This is because of insufficient funding and a lack of access to proven malaria control tools, such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets and preventive medicines for children
The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic is now posing an additional challenge to the malaria response. WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said the gains made in Africa over many years against poverty and disease risk being reversed by the virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease.
“Already, malaria causes a 1.3 percent loss in Africa’s economic growth every year,” Moeti said. “And we know that the COVID-19 pandemic is projected to push sub-Saharan Africa into recession for the first time in 25 years. This incredibly challenging situation requires a renewed commitment to sustained and accelerate the gains that have been made in the fight against malaria.”
Moeti noted malaria continues to kill many more people than diseases like COVID-19 and Ebola. In 2019, the WHO reported the global tally of malaria cases was 229 million, including more than 400,000 deaths. It said 90 percent of these cases and deaths were in the African region. Most of the victims were children.
The U.N. health agency reports global funding for malaria last year totaled $3 billion. This falls far short of the $5.6 billion needed to roll back malaria. (VOA)
Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University Discover Malaria Achilles Heel
September 10, 2016: Scientists appear to have discovered malaria Achilles heel, a weakness common to the multiple stages of malaria infection. In doing so, they have found a compound that cured mice of the disease.
Once it’s entered the body through the bite of an infected mosquito, the malaria parasite, P. falciparum, behaves as a unique organism as it goes through three phases during its life cycle. Experts say most treatments are aimed at only one stage or another. Over time, the parasite can become resistant to therapy, sometimes as quickly as within one year.
But researchers at the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have identified a single protein target that appears to be the disease’s weakness, according to senior researcher Stuart Schreiber, a founding member of the biomedical institution.
“We did discover a novel protein that’s made by the parasite, that’s needed for all three phases of its life cycle, and a series of novel compounds that potently inhibit this protein,” he said. “And we could show in an infected animal that we could kill the parasite in all three phases.”
Schreiber and colleagues published their findings in the journal Nature.
After discovering the protein, researchers screened a unique library of 100,000 small molecules, from which they synthesized about a dozen compounds that they tested in infected mice. The molecules appear to stop the production of this protein in all of malaria’s life stages, effectively killing the disease.
The mice were disease-free for a month, a length of time considered to be a cure. When they tried to infect other mice with the blood of the treated rodents, the animals did not become infected with malaria.
The compound that scientists tested was a one-time oral treatment. Schreiber was quick to caution that what works in a mouse is not necessarily effective in humans. But he is hopeful.
“I am the eternal optimist,” he said. “On the other hand, I do know that what’s ahead is extremely challenging and full of unknowns that can only be addressed by marching forward and running the key experiments.”
The experiments include seeing how well each of the 12 compounds works, for how long, and whether resistance develops with any of the promising agents.
In theory, Schreiber said a drug that works in all three stages of malaria could be taken at any point in the disease cycle, as a treatment and even as a way to prevent the disease.
The researchers note that individuals can remain infectious even while undergoing treatment. So their infection can be spread to someone else through a mosquito bite.
Information about the anti-malaria compounds is being made freely available to other researchers through an online database. The library contains compounds designed and housed at the Broad Institute that are not usually found in the arsenals of pharmaceutical companies.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook
Malaria infects over 200 million people each year. Once it has infected a human host, the malaria parasite evolves through a number of unique stages, from initial blood infection to liver infiltration where the parasite matures and reenters the blood stream.
The parasite then goes on to infect and destroy red blood cells, releasing thousands of daughter parasites that invade other blood cells, continuing the cycle of reproduction and infection.
Follow NewsGram on Twitter
It is during this later blood stage when symptoms of malaria occur, including very high fever, overwhelming sweating, debilitating nausea and diarrhea. Over half a million people do not survive, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.
The research by Schreiber and colleagues was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A Japanese drug company, Eisai, has shown an interest in helping to further develop the experimental malaria treatment. (IANS)
Sri Lanka,Aug 5, 2016: In a remarkable public health achievement, Sri Lanka has been certified as malaria-free island country by World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Sri Lanka’s achievement is truly remarkable. In the mid-20th century it was among the most malaria-affected countries, but now it is malaria-free. This is testament to the courage and vision of its leaders, and signifies the great leaps that can be made when targeted action is taken.
It also demonstrates the importance of grass-roots community engagement and a whole-of-society approach when it comes to making dramatic public health gains, “WHO Regional Director, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said here.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook
Follow NewsGram on Twitter
By NewsGram Staff Writer
Malaria inflicts great socio-economic burden on humanity, and with six other diseases (diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, measles, hepatitis B and pneumonia), narrates 85% of global infectious disease burden.
The vector borne disease affects pregnant women and children mainly. Last year, 1.07 million total malaria cases were registered in India which killed 535 people, the data of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme suggested.
On the occasion of World Malaria Day 2015, NewsGram is offering its readers a few takeaways from World Malaria Report 2014. Here’s a glimpse:
- Globally, an estimated 3.3 billion people in 97 countries and territories are at risk of malaria, and 1.2 billion are at high risk.
- Malaria is concentrated in low-income and lower income countries. Within these countries, the most severely affected communities are those that are the poorest and most marginalized.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, average infection prevalence in children aged 2–10 years dropped from 26% in 2000 to 14% in 2013, a relative decline of 46%.
- In 2013, there were an estimated 198 million cases of malaria (uncertainty range: 124–283 million) and 584,000 malaria deaths globally.
- Malaria incidence rates are estimated to have fallen by 30% globally between 2000 and 2013, while estimated mortality rates fell by 47%.
- Fifty-eight countries are projected to achieve >75% reductions in malaria mortality rates by 2015.
- Some 4.3 million fewer malaria deaths are estimated to have occurred between 2001 and 2013 than would have been the case had mortality rates remained unchanged since 2000.