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 13th (it will be out in January 2020), 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, April 25, 2016

Every One Is In Favor of Getting Rid of Malaria

Malaria is an ancient disease whose name is derived from the earlier notion that it was caused by bad air (mal aria in Italian). It is startling sometimes to think about how recently in human history we have figured these things out. The Enlightenment and the rise in popularity of scientific thinking has brought us a long way. Once we figured out that the big problem with malaria was its vector--the mosquito--science began to make good headway to combat the disease, aided by large-scale government funding (such as USAID) and private funding (especially the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). On today's World Malaria Day, the World Health Organization issued a very positive report. Despite 214 million new cases of malaria in the world in 2015, accompanied by 438,000 deaths from malaria last year, WHO thinks that we can reduce malaria incidence by 90% by 2030, and USAID adds the possibility of getting rid of it altogether by 2040. The Economist reminds us, however, that this won't happen without a lot of hard work and vigilance.
Humanity has much to celebrate on World Malaria Day. But as public-health experts will be reminding politicians, these victories are fragile. Prevention and treatment are patchy in the worst-hit regions, and international aid has flat-lined as rich-world economic growth has slowed. As the parasite evolves, some treatments become less effective. Researchers worry about “monkey malaria”, carried by macaques in Borneo. It used to affect humans only mildly. Now it seems to be evolving into something deadlier, just as deforestation and palm-oil plantations bring humans and other primates into closer and more dangerous contact.
So, for sure let's celebrate, but let's also not let down our guard. Remember, that's why we have the Zika virus...

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