Washington, Feb uary 27: The global eradication of malaria could be achieved by individual countries eliminating the disease within their own borders and coordinating efforts regionally, a researcher at the University of Southampton has suggested.
Dr Andrew Tatem is one the team members from the UK and USA who examined data from 1980 onwards for 30 countries which successfully eliminated malaria and also took part in the 1955 Global Malaria Eradication Programme (GMEP).
In these countries, elimination has become highly stable, transmission (or infection) has declined and resurgence has occurred far less frequently than traditional theory would predict.
“Our findings suggest it may be possible for malaria elimination to proceed like a ratchet, tightening the grip on the disease region-by-region, country-by-country, until eradication is ultimately achieved – but without the need for a globally coordinated campaign,” said Dr Andrew Tatem.
Three potential reasons for this decline and stability of malaria have been suggested: declines in transmission rates resulting from urbanization and economic development, a high-degree of transmission control from treating malaria cases combined with outbreak control and low-connectivity among places that are highly receptive to transmission.
Dr Tatem said, “Evidence from the data we have examined suggests that a concerted effort to bring an individual country to the point of elimination will likely result in that country maintaining a stable, low malaria transmission rate. If this is the case, malaria elimination could proceed at an individual country level, until global eradication is achieved.”
The researchers observed that after elimination in a region, malaria importation poses a constant threat, because humans and mosquitoes carry the disease from endemic areas across international boundaries and within countries.
This means it is important to maintain measures to monitor and contain outbreaks and avoid endemic transmission from restarting.
Of the countries examined, causes of resurgence were poorly documented, but it was most frequently blamed on a failure to intervene at a high-level when outbreaks were identified. This demonstrates long-term investment is needed to ensure elimination in a country is maintained.
The team’s findings have been published in the journal Science. (ANI)