By Dr Aubrey Cunnington, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Dr Jake Baum, Reader in Parasite Cell Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London
World Malaria Day is a good time to reflect on successes in the fight against malaria and the enormous challenges that still lie ahead. Malaria is a mosquito-transmitted parasitic disease, which causes illness ranging from severe flu-like symptoms to coma and death. Those at greatest risk are small children and pregnant women. It is an ancient enemy of mankind, and has exerted a powerful influence on our evolution.
By Professor Kathryn Maitland, Professor of Tropical Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Director of Centre for African Research and Engagement, Imperial College London
Approximately 1200 African children are estimated to die from malaria every day, accounting for the vast majority of the global deaths from this disease. Over the past decade there has been an unprecedented increase in funding for malaria-control activities and vaccine development – the two major tools in ‘Roll back Malaria’ prevention and elimination programme. This has resulted in major scaling-up in the distribution of bed nets treated with long-lasting insecticides and public-private funding for late phase multi-site trials of the most promising anti-malaria vaccine candidate developed to date (RTS,S).
By Professor Kathryn Maitland, Professor of Tropical Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Director of IGHI’s new Centre for African Research and Engagement (ICCARE).
Across large parts of sub-Saharan Africa the major rains have got underway; which typically means that in a few weeks, hospitals will witness a seasonal upsurge of admissions into the children’s wards. Most of these will be children suffering a new bout of malaria, with around ten percent of these malaria admissions having life-threatening complications such a coma (cerebral malaria), severe anaemia (requiring urgent life-saving transfusion) and rapid breathing (to try to compensate for the build up of acids in their bodies).
By Alison Reynolds and Dr Thomas Churcher from Imperial’s Malaria Modelling Research Group
World Mosquito Day (20th August) commemorates the discovery that mosquitoes transmit the parasite that causes malaria, made in 1897 by British doctor Ronald Ross.
A hundred and eighteen years later this transmission still continues, to some extent unabated. There have been huge successes in malaria control, most notably in recent years, though a child still dies every minute from a disease which continues to ravage large swathes of Africa and Asia. Importantly these deaths are completely avoidable, as we have effective tools to treat malaria and stop people dying.