Malaria's grip tightens on Africa

Malaria's grip tightens on Africa

Every day, some 3,000 children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa die from malaria. This death toll rivals that of AIDS and costs the continent between $3 and 12 billion annually.

If malaria had been eradicated in 1965, Africa's GDP would now be 35 percent higher, reports Worldwatch researcher Anne Platt McGinn in “Malaria, Mosquitoes, and DDT,” featured in the May/June edition of the World Watch magazine.

Malaria should be regarded as more than a health issue as it has enormous economic and social impacts.  Yet the disease could be controlled in part by simple and inexpensive prevention measures.  Insecticide-treated bednets, for example, are proven protection from these nocturnal biters and cost only about US$4.  Sleeping under a bednet reduces the number of infective bites a person receives, diminishes the chances of developing severe anemia from repeated exposure, and increases childhood survival rates.

Yet, 28 countries in Africa still impose taxes or tariffs on nets and insecticides, despite a pledge to abolish them two years ago.

Meanwhile, routine use of DDT has not prevailed against mosquitoes carrying malaria.  The negative side effects of this dangerous synthetic pesticide include widespread DDT resistance among mosquitoes.

Combating malaria is intimately linked with today's global security concerns.  Unfortunately, international funding for malaria research totals about $150 million.  This is a mere 5 percent of the proposed $2.8 billion the U.S. government alone is considering for AIDS research in 2003.


“Malaria, Mosquitoes, and DDT” World Watch, May/June 2002.  See:

“Malaria's Lethal Grip Tightens,” Vital Signs 2001
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