Long forgotten, the fight against malaria has once again climbed to prominence, with priority attention from key players such as the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments worldwide. In the Fall 2009 issue of Resources magazine, authors David L. Smith and Andrew J. Tatem explore how malaria became a forgotten disease and what leaders in Africa and across the world are doing to eradicate malaria once and for all.
Learning from past mistakes, say Smith and Tatem, is important in the fight against malaria. But the world had changed since its last strong effort to combat the disease. With information becoming more widely available through vast databases and projects such as the Malaria Atlas Project, the authors believe that defeating the disease is possible. Mathematical modeling in conjunction with such maps helps to answer basic questions such as what coverage levels are required to eliminate malaria and how long will it take? A strategic, effective plan, according to the authors, will be solidly grounded in malaria epidemiology and economics.
“For malaria eradication to succeed, what is needed is a strategic plan that builds on past efforts,” Smith and Tatum write. “Knowing the history of malaria efforts merely keeps us from repeating past mistakes. A truly effective plan must be based on a combination of good medical intelligence and careful and quantitative logic.”