USAID to take on malaria

The U.S. Agency for International Development announced in late October that it was stepping up efforts to combat malaria using insecticide-treated mosquito netting and treatment clinics.

An October 30, 1997 Reuters report said USAID administrator Brian Atwood would announce the anti-malaria initiative at a conference on the malaria problem in Washington, DC. The report cited Dennis Carroll, the conference director, as claiming that field trials of insecticide-treated netting found it reduce the mortality rate of infants and children by up to 30 percent.

According to Reuters, malaria currently kills more than 2 million people worldwide, most of them children under the age of five.

More On Malaria

The Atlantic Monthly ran an enormous article in its August 1997 issue on the continued prevalence of Malaria worldwide. As author Ellen Ruppel Shell notes, almost 40 percent of the world’s population live in an area where malaria is endemic.

Shell chronicles how the World Health Organization set out to eradicate malaria in the 1950s only to see incidence rise to even higher levels by the 1960s when the eradication program was abandoned and replaced with a strategy designed to merely control the spread of malaria.

Today malaria kills close to 3 million people each year. Shell is to be credited for giving space to experts on malaria who note the often irrational fear over DDT (as opposed to rational concern about the excessive spraying of the pesticide) has removed an important method of reducing malaria deaths, although pesticide use remains a short term solution. For the long term Shell cites several nations which managed to dramatically reduce malaria deaths through extremely creative management of species which kill mosquitos.

Someday maybe malaria will be taken as seriously as a public health threat as AIDS, which kills less than half that claimed by malaria.