World Malaria Day 2013

by ShelterBox | @ShelterBox | ShelterBox
Thursday, 25 April 2013 10:39 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

'Invest in the future: defeat malaria' - this year's theme for World Malaria Day. Very appropriate, considering scientists discovered last year new evidence that resistance to the front-line treatments for malaria is increasing.

It appears that the Chinese plant Artemisia annua does not seem to be as effective as it once was in the battle against the mosquito-borne disease. Deadly species of malaria parasites are sadly becoming more immune to what used to be the most effective anti-malarial drugs derived from this plant - artemisinin. 

Last year, the Lancet medical journal published new data that these resistant strains are infecting patients on the Asian border between Thailand and Burma, more than 500 miles (800 kilometres) away from previous sites. Research shows that in just nine years, the number of patients showing resistance to the drugs has risen by 20 per cent, a worrying increase. 

It's not important how this resistance has spread. What matters is this increased immunity raises the spectre of untreatable malaria. 

It is sad to think that this fatal disease could spread once again on an unprecedented scale. 

Save lives 

With this new evidence, investments to defeat malaria seem to be a wise choice. They will save lives – especially those of children and pregnant mothers who are particularly vulnerable. 

As scientists are researching new drugs to combat the savage disease, ShelterBox operations department is researching into different types of mosquito nets. 

'We don't want to just deliver disaster relief to affected families but we want to bring them a minimum level of comfort,' said ShelterBox operations manager Alf Evans. 'I often think about what I would want to have if I lost everything in a disaster. Protection against mosquito bites and malaria is always a definite priority. This is why we put impregnated mosquito nets in every ShelterBox. 


'After extensive research, we chose Permanet 2.0, a ready-to-use bed net treated with deltamethrin, a mosquito repellent. This net triumphed over others due to its long-lasting killing effect on malaria mosquitos, as well as other vector-borne diseases. The chemical impregnated in the net slowly releases once opened therefore it requires no re-treatment or dipping. There is no chance a mosquito can get through the net either no matter how hard it tried due to the optimum mesh size. It also protects others who are not even under the net as the deltamethrin kills a mosquito if it has landed on it and flies off. It is also safe to use and comes in all shapes and sizes depending on local preferences.' 

Mosquitos may be becoming immune to some drugs but that doesn't mean the battle against malaria has to stop. ShelterBox will continue researching into the best possible mosquito nets for families in need offering them comfort and protection against mosquito bites and disease.