Today is World Malaria Day, the day we remember that, though it has been eradicated in many developed nations, malaria still claims thousands of lives around the world. One victim who survived this mosquito-borne disease compared its chills to “lying down between two blocks of ice.”
Each year, more than 400,000 people don’t survive those terrifying shudders.
As part of its long-term goal to eradicate malaria, this year the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching the first field test of a vaccine in real-world settings. Known as RTS,S, or Mosquirix™, the United Nations agency says this is the first vaccine shown to provide partial protection against malaria in young children by acting against the deadliest parasite globally. It will be made available to select residents of three countries in Africa, the continent linked to the highest number of cases. In addition to combating it, the organization hopes to train a spotlight on the need for dramatically increased funding for fighting malaria.
“Progress in the global malaria response has unquestionably stalled,” said Dr. Pedro Alonso, director of WHO’s Global Malaria Program, last December.
“Clearly, to get the response back on track, increased funding is urgently needed from international donors and endemic countries. Critical gaps in access to tools that prevent, diagnose and treat malaria must be found and filled.”