STONEY CREEK, Ontario — A long-anticipated vaccine breakthrough could mean the end is in sight for one of the world’s most deadly diseases, a new report by global humanitarian agency GFA World (www.gfa.ca) suggests.
Mosquito-borne malaria is responsible for more than 400,000 deaths worldwide annually, roughly equivalent to wiping out the population of Miami every year, says the report Malaria, It’s Time to Buzz Off! (https://www.gfa.ca/press/malaria/)
The report – coinciding with World Malaria Day, April 25 – says the disease that’s rampant in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia kills a child somewhere every 2 minutes, making the tiny mosquito more deadly than “sharks, wolves, lions, crocodiles and snakes combined.”
But now that could change with the first-ever approval of a vaccine for widespread use by the World Health Organization (WHO). Calling it “the ‘buzz’ millions around the world have been waiting to hear,” the report describes the new 4-dose vaccine as a “game-changing development.”
By last October, 2.3 million shots-in-arms were administered to children in the 3-nation vaccine trial covering parts of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi in Africa. The vaccine – 30-plus years in the making – reduced cases of severe and deadly malaria by 30%, notes the report.
Malaria and Changing Climate
The encouraging news, at long last, of an effective vaccine comes after a study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine suggested changing temperatures could eventually cause a dramatic increase in malaria cases.
A staggering 8.4 billion people could be at risk from malaria and dengue fever by the end of the century if rising temperatures “were to go unchecked and the world’s population continues to ramp up,” the report cites scientists as predicting.
Changes to weather patterns “could cause a northward shift of the malaria-epidemic belt into North America, northern and central Europe, and northern Asia if temperatures heat up,” the report goes on, “placing populations in the developed and largely malaria-free nations of the West at risk.”
Organizations like GFA World fight malaria in even the most remote locations, such as the mountains of South Asia. Driven by their belief that “every life is precious to God,” the agency’s local missionaries climbed a mountain on foot to deliver lifesaving mosquito bed nets and malaria medicine to isolated villagers.
“From the day they brought the medicine and nets, not a single person in that community died of malaria,” said GFA World founder K.P. Yohannan (Metropolitan Yohan), whose organization’s local missionaries have given out more than 1.3 million mosquito nets in communities across Asia. “This truly shows people that God cares about them.”
China: A Malaria Success Story
Last year, after a 70-year battle against the disease, China was declared malaria-free – the first country in the Western Pacific region in more than 3 decades to rid itself of the disease. During the Vietnam War, “more Chinese soldiers died from malaria than bullets in the mosquito-ridden jungles,” the report says.
“China has shown us it’s possible to obliterate malaria from the world’s most populated country,” the report continues. “And now, with an effective vaccine, the end is finally in sight around the globe.”