The week of 16-19 May 2016 was an important week for girls and women throughout the world with the hosting Women Deliver's 4th Global Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was also a milestone for our Motherhood Projects which incorporate the Alliance for Maternal Health Equality (AMHE), Safe Motherhood Week (SMW) and the Pregnancy and Medicine Initiative (PMI).
The only way to wipe out malaria – wipe out poverty!
Like dengue, malaria is transmitted by a bite from an infected mosquito. A widespread global disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there were 200 million cases and over 600,000 deaths in 2012. We have known how to cure the disease since the 1600s and how to prevent it since 1897, so why are so many people still dying from it?
In her enlightening talk, scientific historian Sonia Shah gives three reasons:
- Scientific challenges: the pathogen is complex and wily.
- Economic challenges: it is rife in poor areas, where bad housing and infrastructure make it difficult to prevent, and the lack of electricity and clinics make it difficult to treat.
- Cultural challenges: those living with it see it as a necessary part of life, rather than something to fight.
A campaign in the 1950s failed because it didn’t go far enough in its scientific research. It killed off all but the most resilient strains in the hardest to reach areas, and malaria came back stronger.
This latest campaign risks failing because only 20% of the cheap and effective insecticide-treated bed nets distributed are being used; people find them too intrusive and simply aren’t motivated for the fight.
Sonia argues that to eradicate it, the disease must be attacked in accordance with the priorities of those living with it. The only way to wipe it out is to attack its way of life by tackling bad roads, bad housing, bad drainage, lack of electricity, and rural poverty – “building it out,” as Sonia puts it.
Not surprisingly, there are parallels in the challenges for eradicating both malaria and dengue. These reasons need to be addressed so that effective results can be attained. By taking a holistic approach and involving key players from different sectors and industries, we hope that campaigns to combat malaria and break dengue will have a greater impact.
Do you think we can rid the world of diseases such as malaria and dengue by developing the communities where they thrive?
Break Dengue was awarded “Most Impactful Emerging Initiative” at the eyeforpharma Barcelona Awards. Break Dengue was one of 29 entries in the category, and received the honours “following a unanimous vote by the panel of international industry experts and patient advocates”.