Malaria -
How long will it take you to read this article?

It’s a frightening thought that by the time you finish reading this even more children across the world will have died due to this virus. Malaria is so prevalent, that every day, around 590,000 people become infected, with at least 1,200 dying as a result. That’s over 438,000 victims per year…and yes, that is very frightening.

Sub-Saharan Africa is especially affected by this virus. Over 90% of global incidences of malaria related death and sickness occur within this region. It is a staggering statistic, especially when you consider that three quarters of those that die as a result of the virus are children under five years.

Today is World Malaria Day. Today is the day where we take stock of our progress in the fight against this terrible virus and make plans for our future attacks. We have achieved some impressive successes so far – since the turn of the millennium, we have cut malaria related deaths by half. Breakthroughs in innovative technologies over the years such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets, rapid diagnostic tests, and Artemisinin-based combination therapies, have been hugely successful in stalling this trend.

Malaria net

However, we need to increase investment and commitment to global health innovation if we are to expand our arsenal of interventions to properly eliminate malaria once and for all. Although this is difficult, a number of diverse responses are emerging from a wide range of players, such as Product development partnerships (PDPs) which are offering new prospects for joint action. These are not­for­profit organisations that leverage private­sector expertise and public and philanthropic resources where markets are not lucrative, and drive the development of products intended for low resource settings, so as to bring them onto the market at affordable prices.

Although we have come a long way since the turn of the century in our fight against malaria, we still have a lot to do. Over 3.2 billion people – almost half the world’s population – are still at risk. Especially the children.

So, how long did it take you to read this?

Photos courtesy of CDC Global (CC).

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