This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Good News on the Malaria Front

Malaria has existed forever--in human terms--and continues to kill millions. But it is now killing fewer than before, and that is the good news reported this week by the World Health Organization:
Between 2000 and 2013, the malaria mortality rate decreased by 47% worldwide and by 54% in the WHO African Region - where about 90% of malaria deaths occur.
New analysis across sub-Saharan Africa reveals that despite a 43% population increase, fewer people are infected or carry asymptomatic malaria infections every year: the number of people infected fell from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013.
Between 2000 and 2013, access to insecticide-treated bed nets increased substantially. In 2013, almost half of all people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa had access to an insecticide-treated net, a marked increase from just 3% in 2004. And this trend is set to continue, with a record 214 million bed nets scheduled for delivery to endemic countries in Africa by year-end.
Gains are, however, fragile, as the WHO notes:
In 2013, one third of households in areas with malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa did not have a single insecticide treated net. Indoor residual spraying, another key vector control intervention, has decreased in recent years, and insecticide resistance has been reported in 49 countries around the world.
Still, the general direction is toward reducing deaths from malaria, and that means that globally we must also ratchet up our attention to the prevention of unwanted pregnancies because the side-effect, so to speak, of lower mortality rates from malaria is a higher rate of population growth. Fortunately, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has helped to fund many of the anti-malaria efforts, has seen the light on this issue is now funding some research related to fertility control.

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