Aug 30, 2004
Malaria, a "weapon of mass destruction" as Doctors Without Borders has labeled it, kills some two million people every year, half of whom are infants. Recently, between 300 and 500 million cases have been reported each year, with over 80% of them in Africa. Instead of declining over the last 30 years, malaria cases have been increasing! There are now four times as many cases and three times as many deaths as there were in the 1970s, a rate of increase many times faster than the increase in population. And the disease is reappearing even in parts of the world where it had previously been wiped out.
In the developed countries, there have been campaigns to eradicate malaria and to eliminate the mosquitoes that transmit it. In the last half century, there have also been a number of new drugs developed for use against the disease. ACT, for example, cures 90% of the cases of malaria, according the World Health Organization. But ACT costs five or six times as much as the older drugs used to treat malaria, which are much less effective, curing only about 65% of those stricken by the disease. But only 32 out of more than 100 countries hit by malaria have access to this drug, or more precisely, have the resources to purchase it. The poor countries don't have the funds, and the developed countries whose economies grew through exploitation of the poor countries, are not about to come up with the money to combat the disease.
To cure the world's population of this disease would take about one billion dollars a year. Sounds like a high sum until it's compared to the amount gobbled up each year by the armaments industry – more than a thousand times as much. Even the cosmetics industry rakes in seven billion dollars a year – just on the sale of "anti-aging" creams!