24 Apr 2015
Dudley Tarlton, Programme Specialist, Health and Development
A mother and child recover from malaria in a hospital in Burundi. The Government provides free health care for pregnant women and children under five.
Photo: Maria Cierna/UNDP
Eliminating malaria seems like a straightforward issue. The parasitic infection is transmitted to people through bites from infected mosquitoes. So if we prevent the mosquito bites, we avoid the infection. But decades of malaria control efforts show there is more to the story. Much of our vulnerability to malaria, it turns out, is determined by human actions. The conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age define to a great extent who is vulnerable to malaria and who is not. Malaria is both a result and a cause of a lack of development. We know that it is those countries with the lowest levels of human development that are most affected by malaria. And within populations, those living in the poorest circumstances also suffer disproportionately. We have long understood the impact malaria has on development. We are now better understanding the impact development has on malaria. The factors that determine malaria risk are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources. The key interventions to prevent malaria (bed nets, insecticide spraying, and access to treatments) are well known, but eliminating the disease will require a broader range of actions. Efforts to improve housing and infrastructure development, sanitation, agricultural