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World Malaria Day

Burnet Institute

27 April, 2011

Photo courtesy of Professor John Reeder.

Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds, worldwide 5000 people die every day of the disease.

World Malaria Day was about encouraging the international community to work together towards zero malaria deaths by 2015.

Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb said despite research advancements, malaria is still one of the world’s most significant diseases.

“One million mothers today have woken knowing that malaria has gripped their family,” Professor Crabb said.

“We’ve made a lot of ground since the 1950s and 1960s and malaria rates are dropping but the numbers are still huge.”

Professor Crabb said the modern effort to combat malaria is stimulated by the Gates Foundation but current efforts won’t be enough.

Drug resistance has always been an issue with parasites automatically mutating to overcome existing malaria drugs.

“We need to come up with new drugs, a cheap, inexpensive vaccine would be the Holy Grail,” Professor Crabb said.

“Burnet is interested in how people come to be immune to malaria, how they get the infection but don’t get sick.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, particularly those living in lower-income countries.

It infects more than 500 million people per year and kills more than one million. The burden of malaria is heaviest in sub-Saharan Africa but the disease also afflicts Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and even parts of Africa.

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