The World Health Organization is celebrating news that malaria deaths have been cut in half, thanks to preventative care and more extensive treatment. According to the CDC, “3.4 billion people live in areas at risk of malaria transmission,” and the disease kills hundred of thousands of people every year. But as the BBC reports, there’s been a 54 percent drop in malaria mortality since the turn of the century:
[The World Health Organization] says between 2001 and 2013, 4.3 million deaths were averted, 3.9 million of which were children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa. Each year, more people are being reached with life-saving malaria interventions, the WHO says.In 2004, 3% of those at risk had access to mosquito nets, but now 50% do. There has been a scaling up of diagnostic testing, and more people now are able to receive medicines to treat the parasitic infection, which is spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes. […]WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said: “These tremendous achievements are the result of improved tools, increased political commitment, the burgeoning of regional initiatives, and a major increase in international and domestic financing.”
This is a very big deal and some badly needed good news. Public health crises like the recent Ebola outbreak capture our attention and dominate news cycles, but they obscure the tremendous and ongoing gains being made in global public health. It’s worth remembering that the madness and mayhem of world politics can sometimes conceal the core truth that science and capitalism, those often scorned offspring of the enlightenment, are quietly improving millions of lives every day.