Efforts to beat malaria may backfire, says experts

London, Oct 30 (ANI): Efforts to wipe out malaria in some countries may be counter-productive, suggests an international team of researchers.

A new report in the Lancet has suggested some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, might be better pursuing a policy of controlling the disease, reports the BBC.

They have also criticised the World Health Organization (WHO) for not providing adequate direction.

However, WHO spokesman said beating malaria must remain the ultimate goal.

The report has pointed out, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set the world such a target in 2007, an aim which was then endorsed by the WHO's Margaret Chan.

The series of articles have instead urged a pragmatic approach in which efforts and resources are concentrated on shrinking the global area where malaria still prevails.

It suggested some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, may be better pursuing a policy of controlling the disease rather than one of eradication.

The report's authors include Professor Richard Feacham of University of California's Global Health Group and researchers from the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

In an editorial accompanying the series, Richard Horton and Pamela Das of the Lancet, argued control may save more lives.

"If existing control efforts were indeed scaled up, by 2015, 1.14 million children's lives could be saved in sub-Saharan Africa alone. This finding is important. The quest for elimination must not distract existing good malaria control work," they wrote.

They also concluded "malaria will only be truly eradicable when an effective vaccine is fully available".

Responding to the report in a statement, Robert Newman, of the WHO's Global Malaria Programme, said the ultimate goal had to be eradication

"WHO has always supported - and will always continue to support - endemic countries in their efforts to control and eliminate malaria," he wrote.

"It is entirely feasible to eliminate malaria from countries and regions where the intensity of transmission is low to moderate, and where health systems are strong.

"Eliminating malaria from countries where the intensity of transmission is high and stable, such as in tropical Africa will require more potent tools and stronger health systems than are available today."

The authors pointed out that malaria and mosquitoes do not respect national borders and that both parasite and insect may develop resistance to existing drugs. (ANI)

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