Many friends and colleagues have told me they’re relieved that I’m back from Africa. The Ebola outbreak kept them worried about me – even though I was in safe areas. While in Nigeria, my friends there were alarmed when one night I got several mosquito bites – even though I was taking malaria pills. I do appreciate my friends’ concerns: Thank “y’all”! I thought it would be interesting to unearth some facts about these diseases.
In recent months, we have seen a growing concern about the consequences of the Ebola epidemic. Out of roughly 4,300 people infected, nearly 2,300 have died in 2014. It’s great to see the mobilization of resources that’s taking place to combat this devastating disease: efforts to treat those infected, to accelerate vaccine testing, and so on.
- half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, with an estimated 627,000 malaria deaths every year;
- in 2012, 90% of malaria deaths occurred in Africa;
- about 460,000 African children die of malaria before the age of five;
- some good news: malaria deaths have fallen by 42% since 2000.
… and there’s no malaria vaccine! Isn’t it amazing? The Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) attributes it to:
- the absence of a traditional market,
- few developers, and
- the technical complexity of developing any vaccine against a parasite.
I wonder if we in the Western world would have reacted to Ebola the way we have if we hadn’t seen it as a threat to us, the “traditional market”… What do you think?
My sympathies go to all affected by either disease.