How insecticide-resistant mosquitoes may be winning the war on malaria

African child with cerebral malaria

As reported here by Humanospere’s Tom Paulson back in July, the Global Malaria Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) has long been worried over reports that mosquitoes were increasingly resistant to chemical-treated bed nets, a mainstay in the Gates-led, worldwide campaign against malaria.

Now, a study from Senegal published in The Lancet at the beginning of this month raises doubts over Gates’ plant to beat malaria, blaming mosquitoes’ growing resistance to insecticide and decreased immunity to malaria among the local population.

Malaria net distribution in Niger

Writing in the U.K.’s The Independent, health editor Jeremy Laurance said today:

“The sudden resurgence of malaria in part of West Africa after a campaign successfully reduced transmission has raised alarm about the global strategy to eliminate the disease that claims almost one million lives a year.

Click HERE for graphic on malaria’s deadly effect (60k jpg)

“Growing resistance to a common insecticide used against mosquitoes, combined with falling immunity among the population as transmission declined, appears to have triggered a rebound in the disease.

“Two and a half years after the campaign successfully cut the number of cases, they have risen even higher than before the programme was launched, among adults and older children.

“The finding raises doubts about the worldwide strategy, led by Bill Gates, to wipe out malaria by distributing insecticide-treated bed nets and effective drugs to the 2.5 billion people who live in high-risk areas around the globe.

“The world’s biggest philanthropist threw down a challenge to the global health community in 2007 to eliminate the disease in his lifetime.”

But David Schellenberg, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an adviser to the charity Malaria No More, also writing in The Independent, warns that more studies are needed before any decisions should be taken on the methods used to fight malaria.

Schellenberg said:

“Malaria is notoriously unpredictable. The increased number of cases in the Senegal study was observed over a single season (three to four months). I’m a little surprised they are being reported at this stage.

“Malaria cases vary from month to month and year to year. Several seasons’ data are needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn about trends.

“It seems unlikely that use of insecticide-treated bed nets for two years would lead to a dramatic change in the population’s level of immunity, or alone lead to a marked increase in resistance in mosquitoes.

“The best way to prevent resistance would be not to use the drugs and insecticides at all. But this would deny half the world’s population living at risk of malaria the tools estimated to have prevented 19 million cases of disease and 200,000 deaths in 2009 alone.”




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