Hope for the Future in Fight Against Malaria
Oct 18, 2011
I am elated to hear about a great hope for the future in the fight against malaria.
I just read several articles, including Elizabeth Weise’s article in the USA TODAY that announced “Malaria vaccine may have potential to save millions.”
The article goes on to explain, “Malaria is one of the most devastating diseases on the planet. Half the world’s population is at risk of malaria. There are about 225 million cases yearly and more than 780,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. In Africa, one in five children die from malaria, one every 30 seconds, WHO says.”
Now imagine that after years of disease and focus on the possibility of a vaccine, that there is some promise in sight.
Well that is exactly what we are hearing about today.
Although the experimental vaccine is still in it’s testing phase, it has shown significant promise. At this point, even though it only appears to protect about 50% of the children who receive it, that is a considerable achievement when you consider how many cases of malaria could be prevented each and every year. Of course, there is also the hope that the effectiveness of the vaccine will improve over time.
What’s even more inspiring is the way in which it has been developed. In the USA Today article, Seth Berkley, CEO of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization explains that this kind of initiative usually comes from a government or a large company. However, this project, a collaboration between GlaxoSmithKline, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examplifies how public and private groups are now working together to fulfill these desperate public health needs.
And if your cynical side is concerned that this is all about money, think again. The article goes on to explain that even though the exact cost for the three-series vaccination has not been determined, GlaxoSmithKline will supply the vaccine at the cost of producing it, plus 5%, which will go to researching other neglected diseases. Andrew Witty, the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline states, “We have no intention of making a profit.”
So, while we must continue to emphasize the need for continued malaria protections, such as insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor spraying, the significant advancements in the development of a vaccine are a promising hope for the future.
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