How Malaria Is Spread
Humans develop malaria if their blood becomes infected by certain parasites that are spread through the bites of Anopheles mosquitoes. Mosquitoes migrate according to the wet seasons of their habitat and so people in third world countries who live near a river or large body of water have a higher probability of infection. The disease can range from mild symptoms such as flu-like symptoms, to kidney failures, anemia, and mental disabilities. Anemia caused by malaria can be especially fatal to pregnant women who need the nutrients that anemia deprives them of. Humans can develop immunity to the parasite over time, but children are very vulnerable until they develop this immunity. Of the 781,000 people that died from malaria in 2009, the majority were African women and children who had no access to anti-malaria drugs.
Organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Red Cross, and UNICEF are determined to develop more effective treatments, diagnostic tools, mosquito-control measures, and a malaria vaccine. They understand that the disease not only impacts the infected individual, but that it imposes a threat to global health and a heavy social and economic burden, estimated to cost billions of dollars in lost productivity every year.
Fighting the Disease
In 2010, Claro Scientific developed a medical diagnostic system that requires a drop of blood to conduct a patient analysis. At the time, the portable system, SpectraWave, was developed for the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) who claimed there was an "unmet need for a timely, accurate diagnosis for malaria and anemia." SpectraWave’s ability to accurately identify malaria infection and anemia has been demonstrated in a combination of laboratory and clinical trials. The system was field tested in a malaria endemic area in South America. The results of the testing were successful and among further collaboration with the University of South Florida and Florida Blood Services, PATH chose SpectraWave for a combined malaria and anemia rapid diagnostic test for developing countries.
Compared to how rampant malaria was less than a century ago, it is huge progress to see that the disease is concentrated mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia today. Yet there is no reason for the people in those regions to suffer either considering how preventable malaria is. The reason that 50% of malaria diagnostics fell in developing countries in the past decade is due to intervention. Humanitarian organizations have traveled to poverty-stricken villages in Africa and Asia to administer anti-malaria drugs, safe insecticides, and bed nets that can protect from mosquitoes at night for one to five years.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made a tremendous effort to combat diseases that plague third world countries, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB. They have spent $2 billion in malaria grants and $1.4 billion on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Their organization provides the thing that elimination of the disease needs: resources. Many diseases are found to be very preventable today, but only if you have the money. Developing nations lack the economic support to pay for vaccines, research, medical equipment, and professional doctors, and their people are the ones who suffer.