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Monday, 16 August 2010

New tools needed to relieve malaria burden in Africa, study finds

Researchers in the UK have demonstrated that the tools currently available for combating malaria could dramatically reduce the burden of malignant malaria on parts of Africa if a comprehensive, sustained intervention programme were in place. The findings, published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine journal, are an outcome of the TRANSMALARIABLOC ('Blocking malaria transmission by vaccines, drugs and immune mosquitoes: efficacy assessment and targets') project, financed with EUR 3 million under the Health Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Substantial efforts have been put into reducing malaria transmission in Africa over the past decade. However, it has been difficult to determine exactly how effective specific interventions can be. Although several countries have reported a decline in malaria transmission, this deadly disease still poses a health burden. According to the study, half of the world's population is at risk of malaria infection, and every year it claims the lives of nearly 1 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. Plasmodium falciparum, one of the species of Plasmodium that causes malaria in humans, is transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes that normally bite (and inject the deadly parasites) at night. Using an advanced simulation model, the researchers were able to show that with the widespread use of durable, insecticide-permeated bednets, and the availability of artemisinin-combination therapy (ACT), a parasite threshold of 1% could be achieved in areas with low to moderate transmission of malaria, where mosquitoes tend to stay indoors.

Source: Cordis