Deaths from Malaria Underestimated

February 6th, 2012
Deaths from Malaria Underestimated

A study published in a British medical journal, The Lancet, has suggested that deaths from malaria across the world are underestimated. While the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently suggested that 650,000 deaths occurred during 2010, other research believes this figure should be significantly higher – an estimated 1.2 million in fact.

The research is based on new data and new computer modelling software and was funded by Bill Gate’s charitable foundation, which he together with his wife Melissa set up some time ago. As part of the research, the organisation developed this new software using data covering the period 1980 to 2010.

The data apparently showed that deaths from malaria rose from 995,000 in 1980 to a peak of 1.82 million in 2004. The numbers did, however, drop in 2010, but not by as much as the WHO seems to imply.

Why a sudden rise in the first place?

The probable reason is a growth in population in those areas that are at particular risk. Children are also apparently the most vulnerable group, which is rather surprising, as it had been suggested that many children developed immunity to the disease. However, the new research seems to debunk this suggestion.

Speaking with reporters, Dr Christopher Murray of the University of Washington in Seattle said: “We estimated that if decreases from the peak year of 2004 continue, malaria mortality will decrease to less than 100,000 deaths only after 2020.”

However, while not disputing this, in an interview with the BBC, The Lancet’s editor Richard Horton said: “Right now we don’t actually have any reliable primary numbers for malaria deaths in some of the most malarious regions of the world, so what numbers we have come from estimates.”

Malaria is caused by a parasite that lives off another organism – a mosquito. This parasite is called a plasmodium and there are currently 5 types that are known to cause malaria. It is normally the mosquito that is carrier of the plasmodium.

While it can be treated, women who are pregnant are apparently at greater risk. As such, insurance companies may increase premiums for those visiting countries prone to malaria attacks, with pregnant women probably paying a higher fee.

Insurance companies also recently warned anyone travelling to malaria prone regions to be careful buying any drugs. Fake and poor quality medicines are seemingly hampering the control of the disorder.

 

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