Thanks to great progress in the war against malaria in the last 20 years, the dream of a world completely free of this deadly disease is now within reach, and could be a reality as early as 2040. This is one of the conclusions of a recent report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a private humanitarian organisation funded by the world’s richest man, Bill Gates. In the report, the organisation puts forth an estimate on what it would cost to eradicate the disease completely world-wide, and suggests various ideas for how it may be done in practice. The vision in Gates’ report is even more ambitious than the malaria target in the recently ratified Global Goals, which aim to end the malaria epidemic before 2030, but do not explicitly state that the disease must cease to exist.
Already halfway there
The world’s nations have been wanting to end malaria for many years. As early as 1955, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to do away with the disease, and millions of houses worldwide were sprayed with insecticide to kill the mosquitoes that transmit the infection. These campaigns were initially successful, and 24 countries managed to rid themselves of malaria. But the great confidence that insecticide alone would defeat the disease meant that not enough resources were allocated to basic research in medicine and anti-malaria technology. As progress was made, political backing for the eradication campaigns started to dwindle, until the WHO paused the initiative in 1968.
The turn of the millennium has seen renewed efforts to fight many of the world’s worst diseases, including malaria. The United Nations agreed in 2000 to stop the spread of malaria, and to start reversing the illness before 2015. This renewed focus has seen a lot of success, and the world malaria mortality rate (the number of deaths from malaria for every 100.000 people) has decreased by 47 percent since 1990. This amounts to saving about 6.2 million human lives, and the world is now at the lowest level of malaria in recorded history, according to the Gates Foundation. More than 100 countries have eradicated malaria so far, and history shows that the disease only very rarely returns after being extirpated from a country.Read article ->