…History repeats itself. While malaria rates went down again as a result of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and widespread deployment of artemisinin-based combination therapies, the parasite adapted its genetic machinery to resist these powerful medicines and is now preparing for a devastating return…

If P. falciparum becomes totally resistant, then the ACTs would become ineffective and all investments in their development and distribution would be lost, with dire consequences….

Over the years, millions of dollars have been spent on fighting malaria… But all this well-intentioned money keeps us only a step ahead of the parasites. We have to keep coming up with new combinations of drugs before our patients taking the old ones start dying. And bed nets… aren’t always effective here in Southeast Asia, where many mosquitoes that carry the parasite bite outside and early in the evening.

Of course, an effective vaccine could save us but, despite the frequent announcements that we’re close to developing one, it has never materialized because we do not fully understand the underlying biology. We have to accept that these strategies of control are failing…

The more money we throw at malaria, the bigger the problems get…

Francois Nosten, Professor in Tropical Medicine at Oxford University, and leader of the largest ever drug trials on malaria, writing in the NYT  this week.

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About Ben Ramalingam

I am a researcher and writer specialising on international development and humanitarian issues. I am currently working on a number of consulting and advisory assignments for international agencies. I am also writing a book on complexity sciences and international aid which will be published by Oxford University Press. I hold Senior Research Associate and Visiting Fellow positions at the Institute of Development Studies, the Overseas Development Institute, and the London School of Economics.


Disease, Epidemics, Evolution