The impact of malaria
Malaria is an infection caused by a parasite and carried from person to person by mosquitoes. It is preventable and treatable but kills more than one million people, most of them young children living in Africa, each year.
Today approximately 40% of the world's population, mostly those living in the world's poorest countries, is susceptible to malaria. Malaria is endemic in nearly 100 countries worldwide and notably so in 28 countries on the African continent.
The disease is characterized by extreme exhaustion associated with fits of high fever, sweating, shaking chills, and anemia. The malaria parasites destroy red blood cells in the body, causing anaemia. Without adequate treatment, infected red blood cells block vessels to the brain or damage other vital organs, often resulting in death. In some instances people in highly endemic areas who are infected frequently may develop immunity to the disease and become asymptomatic carriers of malaria, contributing to epidemics.
Older, inexpensive, single drugs such as chloroquine are increasingly resistant to new strains of the disease.The most effective treatments to date involve combinations of artemisinin-based drugs and other antimalarials to prolong an individual drug’s effectiveness and delay resistance.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all countries experiencing resistance to conventional monotherapies, such as chloroquine, amodiaquine or sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine, should use combination therapies, preferably those containing artemisinin derivatives (ACTs: artemisinin-based combination therapies) for falciparum malaria. The increase in demand for ACTs has lead to supply issues which threaten the effective treatment of the disease.
The economic impact of malaria
Malaria affects the health and wealth of nations and individuals alike. In Africa today, malaria is understood to be both a disease of poverty and a cause of poverty. In addition to the human cost, malaria has significant measurable direct and indirect costs, and has recently been shown to be a major constraint to economic development. For developing economies this has meant that the gap in prosperity between countries with malaria and countries without malaria has become wider every single year.
Economists believe that malaria is responsible for a ‘growth penalty’ of up to 1.3% per year in some African countries. When compounded over the years, this penalty leads to substantial differences in GDP between countries with and without malaria and severely restrains the economic growth of the entire region.
World Health Organization www.who.int
One World Health www.oneworldhealth.org
As Summarized by Centre for Novel Agricultural Products – Artemisia Projects