It has been estimated that half of the modern world’s population is at risk for malaria—either by infection in one’s homeland or through travel to areas prominent with the mosquito-borne disease. In 2015, there were 212 million cases. Of those, over half a million deaths resulted, and seventy percent involved children less than five years old.
Although malaria is a dreaded disease of the present-day world, it has been around and recognized since ancient times. References to it date back to Mesopotamia. In 270 BC, the Chinese Medical Book (called New Chin) addressed the disease.
Through worldwide educational efforts, advances in preventative medications and improvements in mosquito control, there has been a sixty percent decrease in malaria deaths worldwide over this and the last century—and an almost thirty percent decrease in mortality since 2010.
Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that one of several malaria vaccines in development has made it through the crucial phases of testing and is now ready for advanced field testing in humans. Past Phase 3 trials in Sub-Saharan Africa decreased the mortality rate by fifty percent in 11,000 vaccinated children.
Starting in 2018, this specific malaria vaccine will be administered to over 120,000 children between the ages of five and seventeen months living in three African nations: Kenya, Ghana and Malawi.
Although the goal of the World Health Organization is to eliminate malaria by 2040 and this vaccine brings that potential achievement one step closer to fruition, there are still challenges to be addressed if this disease is to be fully eliminated in the coming decades. These include adequate access to the vaccine in many parts of the world where clean water and travel to clinics remain the primary barriers, particularly since the vaccine requires multiple doses (boosters) to effectively prevent the disease onset.
Much work still needs to be done to eliminate this disease that affects so many of the world’s population, especially children, but there is renewed hope for a vaccine to eradicate the world of malaria.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!
This is great news! Thanks for sharing.
My pleasure. It’s good to provide some good news these days! 🙂