Weapons to control malaria

People, mosquitoes, and parasites are each necessary for malaria to spread. Malaria controls focus on removing at least one of them from the situation, stopping the cycle of malaria transmission.

Insecticide treated bed nets (ITNs)

boy sleeps under a bed net
Bed nets protect the people under them from being bitten by mosquitoes. But they also protect a community from malaria's spread. How? If the person under the bed net has malaria, and a mosquito gets in and bites the person, it will immediately fly to the bed net because of the weight of the blood, land on it, and be killed. That interrupts the transmission of the disease.


man spraying pesticide inside a wood walled hut
Spraying pesticides, usually DDT, on the indoor walls of homes repels and kills mosquitoes before they can bite people. Pesticide programs are effective but used sporadically because of environmental concerns about DDT.

Anti-malarial drugs:

Artemisin in a vial

Anti-malarial drugs kill malaria-causing parasites after a person is infected. But the parasites have grown resistant to many anti-malarial drugs.

The Artemisinin medications, which are derived from a plant and have been used in China for more than 2000 years, are among the most effective medications. Unfortunately, Artemisinin is relatively expensive to produce. Also, Artemisinins need to be followed by a second mediation to prevent relapse. So many children don’t get treated, or are treated with ineffective medications, because of cost. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Medicines for Malaria Ventures are sponsoring programs to create synthetic Artemisinin for 1/10th the current price.


doctors in masks working on a vaccine
Researchers at the Institute of Immunology, in Botoga, Colombia, work on a possible malaria vaccine.
Vaccines will someday protect people from becoming infected with malaria in the first place. “…Until we get a vaccine it will be virtually impossible to wipe out malaria,” says Stauffer. No malaria vaccines are available right now, although their development is the dream of many researchers. There are several vaccines in clinical trials, we won't have a proven safe and effective vaccine in the near future.

All images courtesy WHO/TDR/Crump/Martel