World Malaria Day

It was World Malaria Day on the 25th of April. The statistics on the frequency of infection are absolutely staggering with 300 to 500 million new cases per year and 1.5 to 2.7 million deaths, mostly amongst children in Sub Saharan Africa. This is a major impediment to development in the region as well as a tragic loss of human life and a cause of indescribable distress to families.The traditional treatment was chloroquine, which was fairly effective until the 1960s, but significant resistance has emerged to it since. Other newer (and more expensive) agents are available and effective but as ever with Africa the logistics of getting the drugs to the people who need them are a problem as well as the problem of cost itself. There is an additional problem that chloroquine is over used, frequently as a treatment for colds, and there is significant over diagnosis of malaria. This is of course understandable as the disease is of course best treated early.

There is also considerable debate about mosquito control including with the use of DDT. Once heralded as the solution to the malaria problem and very extensively used in the 1950s and 1960s before falling from favour and now being proposed in a limited fashion as impregnation of mosquito nets and in houses. DDT was undoubtedly highly effective in killing mosquitoes but widespread use is a significant environmental problem. The above link seems a pretty reasoned analysis of its current place.

Amongst the most effective of recent innovations has been the increased provision of mosquito nets impregnated with insecticide for up to 5 years (the insects almost exclusively bite at night). However, this are not usable everywhere. I can also anecdotally report that sleeping under a mosquito net is a real pain.

Whether or not malaria could ever be eradicated is a difficult question as is the likelihood of a successful vaccine. Of course there are also four strains of malaria: vivax, ovale, malariae and the most feared, the one associated with significant mortality, is falicparum that particularly afflicts Africa.

The final solution to malaria (if there is one) will no doubt be complex. However, more than anything I would submit this is a disease that merits having great amounts of effort, publicity and money thrown at it; possibly even more than is at the moment.

As an aside when I went to Kenya I took Lariam. It made me quite nauseated but I did not get malaria. A friend who also went to Africa at the same time took it but still got malaria. He said it was really just like the flu only vastly worse. He only had a mild dose. The mortality in significant even in healthy adults from here who lack the immunity built up over years as the Africans have. Prophylaxis may not be perfect but if going to a malaria zone be sure to take some prophylactics. Final aside Oliver Cromwell the subject of one of my other recent blogs may have died of malaria.

  • RepublicanStones

    I took Lariam, didn’t like the expeirence either. I actually skipped it a week here and there and didn’t catch anything. The worm tablets on arrival back left the toilet in an awful mess though….sorry, have i just shared too much?

  • Harry Flashman

    Ah yes, the ending of widespread use of DDT, that was a great idea. Due to the hysterical nonsense written by Rachel Carson in “Silent Spring” comfortable middle class white ecologists were able to feel good about condemning millions of Africans to a preventable early death.

    Greens condemning millions of dark skinned people to misery and death, no surprise there. Seems they never learn, now we see famine rearing its ugly head once more because the global warming idiocy has led to rich white people burning millions of tons of food to run their car engines.

    So a few million black people starve as long as white liberals get to do their bit to “save the planet”, I actually think culling millions of people is part of the Green game plan.

  • Rory

    Although I spent many happy days in my boyhood hunting through the marshes that surround Down Cathedral I do not remember encountering a single mosquito. Still if you think they are a problem in Northern Ireland, Turgon, I’ll take your word for it.

    But I still do not understand why anyone would want to commemorate World Malria Day in celebration of a disease that you claim kills between 1.5 million and 2.5 million. Seems a bit morbid to me. But then I believe some people in Northern Ireland go on marches each year to celebrate the slaughter at the Battle of the Boyne so I suppose it is a cultural thingy.

  • Moochin Photoman

    I used to take Paludrine during the late 70’s and early 80’s in Nigeria. For 3 days before going out and for two weeks after.
    I never got it but my mother suffered intermittently from it for the rest of her life.
    Not a pleasant experience.
    G & T’s were the drink of choice alledgedly because of the quinine in the tonic water.
    We also used mosquito coils that were burned under the bed to ward them off. And yes sleeping under a mossie net is a tangling and annoying experience!

  • PeaceandJustice

    To Rory – you just can’t help yourself. It’s a serious issue and is affecting more and more people across the British Isles given the increase in air travel. Should we be surprised that only female mosquitoes bite?!

  • joeCanuck

    Treated mosquito nets are supposedly very effective. They’re quite cheap too; even with my limited disposable dollars I was able to donate quite a few. There is now a big campaign to increase the distribution
    I have had many occasions to sleep under mosquito nets and no problems at all; quite cozy.
    This disease can be wiped out. The use of DDT will be an important part of that. Used indoors DDT does not present a danger to humans or wildlife. The indiscriminate ban was sheer idiocy.
    With global warming, there will be an increase in mosquitos in the UK, including N.I. so the risk from malaria to even stay-at-homes will increase.

  • Mosquitoes are heroes in West Africa asthey killed the white invaders. I am unsure of Harry F’s point regarding global warming; surely the problem is we are consumer freakws and f-g enablers. One recalls Richard Nixon’s comments about Latin America: No one gives a shit about the place.
    The brits used to be good malaria bashers when they had their empire. But there ain’t no money in it now.
    Let’s face it. Only poor people get malaria. And investing in malaria won’t help our 401ks too much.

  • pauljames

    Harry

    Dont know if its part of your imagined Green policy or not but the The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife. POPs circulate globally and can cause damage wherever they travel. In implementing the Convention, Governments will take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. the treaty specifically permits the public health use of DDT for the control of mosquitoes.

  • Harry,

    You are quite right. It is the de facto banning of DDT – as the behest of Rachel Carson’s ludicrous “Silent Spring” which has caused so much needless death. Another good example of why we must not listen to environmental quackery. Greenies feel good, the poor suffer. (File under Bio-fuels)

  • Rory

    “Should we be surprised that only female mosquitoes bite?!”

    While I have a sneaking suspicion, PeaceandJustice, that you may not be a Roman Catholic, I must say that your above remark caused me to admire the great catholicity of your misogyny.

    I do so like a man who has the mental dexterity to be non-specieist in his prejudices.

  • 6countyprod

    George W Bush has taken a great interest in malaria in Africa, and his involvement and help will be one of his positive lasting legacies.

    The White House website has a bunch of recent updates and facts concerning malaria, and it is very encouraging to see the progress being made.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/04/20080425-5.html

  • Northsider

    Well said, Harry.

    Sadly, we’ll have to wait at least another ten years for the global warming myth to be exposed as harshly as the DDT one, before sense prevails.

    Unfortunately, as with the DDT debacle, millions of people will have died as a consequence (from famine) but by that stage – and I’m being optimistic – green and environmental thinking will be totally discredited.

    Shame on the lot of the them, what an appalling shower….

  • joeCanuck

    Yes indeed 6countyprod. That is one ( of the few?)area that George W will get top marks for.

  • 6countyprod

    Yea, his other positive lasting legacy will be a free and democratic Iraq.:)

  • BfB

    Hey, I was gonna say that!!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “Yes indeed 6countyprod. That is one ( of the few?)area that George W will get top marks for.”

    Actually, GWB has been pretty good for Africa, making several diseases and easing conditions in the region a strategic goal.

    Northsider: “Unfortunately, as with the DDT debacle, millions of people will have died as a consequence (from famine) but by that stage – and I’m being optimistic – green and environmental thinking will be totally discredited.”

    You forget that the logic of “Big Brother” is with them… in a few years, they will tell us that Green Peace was *always* in favor of nuclear power…

    The questions and issues change — the answers almost always remain the same. The solution to “the coming ice age” back around the first Earth Day, strangely enough, are the same as to “global warming” some decades on… Amazing how they can blow hot and cold with the same breath.

  • Harry Flashman

    DC

    [i]The questions and issues change—the answers almost always remain the same. The solution to “the coming ice age” back around the first Earth Day, strangely enough, are the same as to “global warming” some decades on… Amazing how they can blow hot and cold with the same breath.[/i]

    Just read some of the predictions the “scientists” were coming up with back in 1970 to see just how deeply ingrained this psychosis is:

    • “…civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind,” biologist George Wald, Harvard University, April 19, 1970.

    • By 1995, “…somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.” Sen. Gaylord Nelson, quoting Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, Look magazine, April 1970.

    • Because of increased dust, cloud cover and water vapor “…the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born,” Newsweek magazine, January 26, 1970.

    • The world will be “…eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age,” Kenneth Watt, speaking at Swarthmore University, April 19, 1970.

    • “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” biologist Barry Commoner, University of Washington, writing in the journal Environment, April 1970.

    • “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from the intolerable deteriorations and possible extinction,” The New York Times editorial, April 20, 1970.

    • “By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half…” Life magazine, January 1970.

    • “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle magazine, April 1970.

    • “…air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone,” Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle magazine, April 1970.

    • Ehrlich also predicted that in 1973, 200,000 Americans would die from air pollution, and that by 1980 the life expectancy of Americans would be 42 years.

    • “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” Earth Day organizer Denis Hayes, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970.

    • “By the year 2000…the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America and Australia, will be in famine,” Peter Gunter, North Texas State University, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970.

    (Source, Washington Policy Centre)

    They’re certifiable lunatics but they’ve actually taken control, it’s quite incredible.

  • 6countyprod

    Getting back to the original malaria topic, I have been annoyed at the fact that in West Africa, at least in Burkina Faso, medicines which have lost their efficacy against malaria are still being prescribed and used as cures. Hospitals and health clinics still dish out nivaquine as if it will help folks, when, in that part of the world, it is pretty useless.

    We were taking doxycycline (sp)every day, and using Plasmotrim and a Fansidar chaser as a cure. It worked very well for my wife, after trying a number of combinations to get rid of her malaria.

    Of course, prevention is better than cure, and even in war-torn Ivory Coast treated nets are being given to pregnant ladies in isolated areas to help protect them and their newborns against mossies.