Recommendations for the Future

Although Malaria has been identified so long ago by ancient sources and eradication efforts were mounted so eagerly in the past, the disease continues to threaten the physical, social, and economic well-being of millions of families.  The impact of malaria is particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa where patients near the poverty line lack access to basic resources for treatment and prevention.  The ideal strategy of malaria control would address development and raise the standard of living for these families in sub-Saharan Africa.  Although he focuses on research on the insect immune system , David Schneider feels that addressing non biological aspects of malaria can be an ideal solution.  He explains, “the best way [to fight malaria] would be to raise the development level in sub-Saharan Africa so that everyone was able to live in a nice house and they got all sorts of medicines, they had decent jobs and they were able to buy medicine to fight disease”. [1] This result would be costly and quite difficult to achieve.  However, there is still a strong need for more funding and attention directed to fighting malaria.


New multilateral public health campaigns and research efforts are heading in the right direction by raising awareness and coordinating efforts to combat Malaria. Instead of investing resources in idealistic methods such as vaccines and transgenic mosquitoes, however, it would be more efficient to concentrate on proven strategies.  An effective vaccine would still require years of development through multiple trials and preparation for distribution.  The funds and energy spent on such efforts seems excessive, when one considers that many families in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to bed nets or effective treatments.  Although focusing on increasing access to standard resources in underserved areas does not seem like a glamorous solution, it would have an immediate effect on patients.   In addition, strategies such as the introduction of transgenic mosquitoes ignore the real challenges of the human contact with the vector.  Environmental management strategies for vector control are indeed challenging, but hold the possibility of permanently improving the health of the surrounding community.

This focus on proven methods of malaria control does not eliminate the need for further research into understanding of the disease.  The life cycle of Plasmodium is complex and provides a challenge for treating and preventing transmission of malaria.  A promising topic for future research involves interactions of the parasite with the human and insect immune systems.  There is is also a clear need for funding this type of research.  According to Schneider, “In the United States we study the things that affect our families….you hear an awful lot about melanoma and how you should use suntan lotion, you get the idea that people are dropping dead from melanoma all the time but it doesn’t kill that many people, it kills nobody compared to what malaria kills a year and it’s crazy how excited people get over that.” [2] No matter what direction health organizations decide to follow, it is clear that malaria is a threat that must not be taken lightly.


[1], [2] David Schneider Interview