Malaria & Poverty : a vicious cycle

Malaria is one of the most important challenges to global public health and is often referred as the epidemic of the poor. Whilst the disease is in large part determined by climate and ecology, and not to poverty per se, the impact of malaria takes its toll on the poorest. Recent studies estimate that the disease costs Africa $US 12 billion in lost Gross Domestic Product. Countries with high malaria transmission have historically had lower economic growth than in countries without malaria.  Their economy growth slows by 1.3% per year as a result of lost life and low productivity.

The direct cost includes high public expenditure to attempt to maintain health facilities and infrastructures, manage effective malaria control campaigns and provide public education. Malaria costs are also widely felt as workers productivity lowers with increased sick leave, absenteeism and premature mortality of the workforce. The disease is as much burdensome for families and households. According to the European Alliance Against Malaria “The permanent neurological and physical damages caused by severe episodes of the disease hamper children’s schooling and their general well-being. They can directly affect their education and ability to learn in later life.”

Malaria and poverty constitute a vicious cycle. These two plagues need to be tackled together. Social and economic conditions need to be addressed while malaria control should be seen as a poverty reduction strategy.

Sri Lanka certified malaria-free by WHO

On September 5, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Sri Lanka malaria-free. Sri Lanka’s achievement is truly remarkable knowing that 50 years ago it was among the most malaria-affected countries.

To eliminate this threat, Sri Lanka changed its anti-malaria campaign. As 80% of the people live in rural areas, it was impossible to eradicate the mosquitoes. The government focused instead on eliminating the parasites itself. The new campaign effectively mixed surveillance, community management, mobile clinics and health education.

According to Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director, “the change in strategy was unorthodox but highly effective. Mobile malaria clinics in high-transmission areas meant that prompt and effective treatment could reduce the parasite reservoir and the possibility of further transmission.”

During the last three years, WHO reported zero cases of malaria. This is a major step forward for Sri Lanka. They became the second country in South-East Asia Region to eliminate malaria after the Maldives. However, the country must not let the disease come back and will have to maintain its surveillance and control, especially at the border.

xRapid won the Digitech Prize at Innovation Days

Last Monday and Tuesday, xRapid participated in the Innovation Days in Paris. On top of having the opportunity to exhibit, we won the Digitech Prize with our new project: xRapid-tuberculosis.

Thus, Cherry rewarded us with 50 000 euros of advertising. Thanks to Universal Medica’s Digital Agency, we will have access to more than 30 specialised websites intended to general public and health professionals. In the next months, we will be working with them in order to improve our visibility online.