By Willis Simon Akhwale, Country Director for I-TECH Kenya
Malaria is one of the oldest and deadliest infectious diseases affecting man. It is an ancient and modern disease – descriptions of illnesses similar to malaria are found in ancient texts from China, India, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Malaria parasites have co-evolved – which involves genetic changes and adaptation – with people as their hosts over a period of four thousand years.
After the Second World War, the Global Malaria Eradication Programme was intensified by the discovery of DDT, a powerful pesticide. The campaign partially reduced the malaria transmission cycle and infection rates within a short time.
The US eradicated malaria by 1951 but in Latin and South America pockets recurred two decades later.
Today malaria has been eliminated in 26 other countries including Cuba, Italy and Japan. About 65 countries are planning to eradicate the disease between 2020 and 2030.
The International Training & Education Center for Health (I-TECH) is a center within the University of Washington Department of Global Health, in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco.