We will eradicate malaria by 2010, stricken families were promised a few years ago. Well, 2010 is nearly gone and, instead of eradication, we have more malaria than before...and a new target date: 2015.
Unless malaria control policies change, that date too will come and go. Billions will still be at risk of getting malaria. Hundreds of millions will continue getting the disease. Millions will die or become permanently brain-damaged. And poverty and misery will continue ravaging Third World communities.
For years, malaria strategies have been dominated by insecticide-treated bed nets, Artemisia-based drugs, improved diagnostics and hospitals, educational campaigns, and a search for vaccines against highly complex plasmodium parasites. All are vital, but not nearly enough.
Notably absent in all too many programs has been vector control - larvacides, insecticides and repellants, to break the malaria victim-to-mosquito-to-healthy-human transmission cycle, by reducing mosquito populations and keeping the flying killers away from people. Dr. William Gorgas employed these methods to slash malaria and yellow fever rates during construction of the Panama Canal a century ago.