In Russia, Turkey, and Persia, sunflowers were planted to reduce malaria - the sunflowers elminated wet areas where the malaria-causing mosquitos thrived.
Nature a Day at a Time by Cathie Katz, 2000.
Many malaria nations on course to end disease -WHO
By Kate Kelland, Health and Science CorrespondentSEATTLE, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Nearly a third of all malaria affected countries are on course to eliminate the mosquito-borne disease over the next 10 years, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.In a progress report published by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership at the start of an international Malaria Forum conference in Seattle, the United Nations health body said “remarkable progress” had been made.Up to a third of the 108 countries and territories across the world where malaria is endemic are moving towards being able to wipe out the disease within their borders, it said.”Better diagnostic testing and surveillance has provided a clearer picture of where we are on the ground — and has shown that there are countries eliminating malaria in all endemic regions of the world,” Robert Newman, director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme, told the conference.He said the WHO continually monitors progress to ensure countries are supported in their efforts to be malaria-free.Almost half the world’s population — or 3.3 billion people — are at risk of malaria and the mosquito-borne parasitic disease killed 781,000 people in 2009, latest data show.Most of its victims are in Africa, where the disease kills a child every 45 seconds.Malaria elimination — halting the disease’s transmission and reducing infections to zero within a defined area — was first attempted on a large scale during the Global Malaria Eradication Program from 1955 to 1972.During that time, 20 countries were certified by WHO as malaria-free. But that number dropped to just four countries during the following 30 years when efforts to control the spread of the disease lapsed and it swiftly returned.Monday’s report said seven countries had recently eliminated malaria and were working to prevent re-introduction, another 10 countries were monitoring transmission to get down to zero malaria cases, and a further nine were “preparing to move towards nationwide elimination of malaria”.”The extraordinary commitment, the … financing, and the coordination of efforts to realise malaria targets over the last ten years have resulted in a situation today where we could see 10 more countries reaching a malaria-free status in a relatively short time,” said Awa Marie Coll-Seck, RBM’s executive director.”This will save many many more lives.”PROGRESS MADERBM said in a report in September that a rapid scale up of a range of malaria control measures — such as insecticide treated mosquito nets, indoor spraying, faster and more accurate diagnosis and access to anti-malaria drugs — has saved an estimated 1.1 million lives in Africa in the past 10 years.International funding for the fight against malaria has also risen substantially in recent years, reaching about $1.5 billion in 2010, up from $100,000 million in 2003.Newman said that with all the highly effective tools currently available, “no one should die of malaria” and urged international donors and national governments to push harder to ensure all those who needed them had access to them.Only then, he said, would the “global goal of eradicating this ancient scourge” become a reality.The Malaria Forum is organised and funded by the Gates Foundation, a $34 billion fund founded by the billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The foundation is devoted largely to health projects in poor countries.In 2007, Gates and his wife Melinda called on the international community to fight for global eradication of malaria, saying that to aspire to anything less would be “timid”.
Malaria scientist celebrates success after 24 years
“There were many ups and downs, and moments over the years when we thought ‘Can we do it? Should we continue? Or is it really just too tough?,” he told Reuters, as data showing the success of his RTS,S vaccine were unveiled at an international conference on malaria.”But today I feel fabulous. This is a dream of any scientist — to see your life’s work actually translated into a medicine … that can have this great impact on peoples’ lives. How lucky am I?”Final stage clinical trial data on RTS,S, also known as Mosquirix, showed it halved the risk of African children getting malaria, making it likely to become the world’s first successful vaccine against the deadly disease.While scientists say it is no “silver bullet” and will not end the mosquito-borne infection on its own, it is being hailed as a crucial weapon in the fight against malaria and one that could speed the path to eventual worldwide eradication.Malaria is caused by a parasite carried in the saliva of mosquitoes. It kills more than 780,000 people per year, most of them babies or very young children in Africa.Cohen’s vaccine goes to work at the point when the parasite enters the human bloodstream after a mosquito bite. By stimulating an immune response, it can prevent the parasite from maturing and multiplying in the liver.Without that immune response, the parasite re-enters the bloodstream and infects red blood cells, leading to fever, body aches and, in some cases, death.Although Cohen’s scientific work has been largely in Belgium, where he runs a GSK laboratory, the final-stage trials of RTS,S were conducted in Africa, where malaria hits hardest.With GSK working in partnership with the non-profit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), the trials became Africa’s largest-ever medical experiment as the vaccine was tested in around 16,000 children across seven countries.Cohen said that if all goes to plan, RTS,S could be licensed and rolled out by 2015.SOUL SEARCHINGAs he looks back at the vaccine’s long, slow development, the bearded 68-year-old molecular biologist laughs at how naive he was when he first agreed to take on the task.It was April 1, 1987 when his boss at the drug company, then called Smith, Kline & French, asked him to be head of the malaria vaccine research program, just after an early-stage experimental vaccine and failed a test.”Unfortunately, it was not a great success. Only one volunteer out of the several that were vaccinated was actually protected. So, after quite a bit of optimism, there was then quite a bit of soul searching,” Cohen said.”I did not actually know much about malaria, apart from about the enormous medical burden it represented. But I felt I was taking on an enormous scientific challenge, and that was exciting for a relatively young scientist.”Having come from academia and post-doctorate studies into what he said were “sometimes esoteric questions” of molecular biology, he was also attracted by the prospect of doing something “very meaningful” in terms of global health.Getting on for a quarter of a century later, Cohen said he had “never dreamed it would take this long.”He was also careful to underline that this was a first step, as well as a world first. GSK, MVI and several other research groups and drug firms are already working on next generation vaccines and on other ways of making malaria shots they hope will better the roughly 50 percent success rate of RTS,S.”The work is not over, that is for sure,” Cohen said.