Today is the anniversary of the day the Dr Ronald Ross’s discovery that malaria was spread by female mosquitoes. Various sites marked the day with blog posts and pictures, but this find from the NPR Shots Blog, who in turn was tipped by the Contagions blog, is much more fun.
Shots tells the story of the pamphlet:
Dr. Seuss was a captain in the U.S. Army. And during World War II, the author and illustrator, whose given name was Theodor Geisel, spent a few years creating training films and pamphlets for the troops.
One of Geisel’s Army cartoons was a booklet aimed at preventing malaria outbreaks among GIs by urging them to use nets and keep covered up.
In 1943, Germany blocked the Allies’ supply of the anti-malaria drug quinine. So Geisel created a booklet explaining to the troops how to avoid harmful encounters with “blood-thirsty Ann,” the character he created to represent Anopheles, the genus of the mosquitoes that transmit the disease
Notice that there were cases of malaria in the United States during World War II. A lot has changed since then in the US, but the map has not changed much for sub-Saharan Africa. The basic advice to use sleeping nets was pushed as hard 70 years ago as it is today. Continue reading
Voice of America
Nets distribution in Niger
One of the problems with saving lives is it’s hard to identify a death averted. Success in disease prevention is often invisible.
You typically can’t say, for example, that 380 cases of malaria, and one death, were prevented in African children for every $1,025 spent on insecticide-treated bed nets last year.
Except now you can.
A new report published by Roll Back Malaria has applied a sophisticated new analytical method known as the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) to measure the number of lives saved over the last few years by anti-malaria efforts in Africa. Continue reading
Flickr, by Prezius
Insecticide-treated mosquito nets can prevent malaria infection, no question.
Getting people to use them as intended is another thing. Reports of people in African communities using them to catch fish, make fences or for other creative purposes has prompted some to claim bed net distribution is not effective for fighting malaria and is misguided if not counterproductive.
Others contended the nets should be sold, rather than donated, so recipients value them.
A new study by the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has found that African countries who have received major support for bed net distribution are using them as intended and many more children are being protected from malaria.
Bottom line, said IHME director Dr. Chris Murray: “More money means more children sleeping under bed nets.”