Maybe Some Real Progress on Malaria
According to this NYT article, there is some renewed vigor in the fight against malaria. Part of it comes out of the Gates Foundation, but also from politicians on both sides of the aisle and the White House, of all places. There seems to be some real genuine concern about the ineffectiveness of past efforts. One of the problems has been too little spent on actual relief efforts:
Only 1 percent of the agency's 2004 malaria budget went for medicines, 1 percent for insecticides and 6 percent for mosquito nets. The rest was spent on research, education, evaluation, administration and other costs. The Bush administration is changing that approach.Even with more spending, in Africa, nothing is as simple as it seems. We can give millions of dollars to African governments to buy insecticide-treated mosquito nets or to buy drugs for treatments, but the material never gets purchased. While we might find it hard to imagine, even the most basic bureaucratic function of procurement is a steep challenge in these countries. As far as actually delivering nets or spraying the insides of homes, forget it. Aid agencies seem to be recognizing this, and now are proposing actually buying and distributing the nets, and training locals to spray. Interestingly, the article noted DDT spraying as part of the plan without even a hint of controversy - that alone is good news. Queasiness about DDT use among Western liberals is another unnecessary roadblock to malaria prevention in the tropics. Indoor spraying of DDT poses no environmental risk and does not lead to resistance the way agricultural spraying does.
800,000 young African children still die of malaria per year — more than from any other disease — when there are medicines that cure for 55 cents a dose, mosquito nets that shield a child for $1 a year and indoor insecticide spraying that costs about $10 annually for a household.Malaria kills more like 2 million people per year worldwide. Amazingly, there seem to be people in high levels of government sincerely intent on turning this around.