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Realism will work best for attacking malaria

December 26, 2009 - 15:19 -- William Jobin

While it might appear that the call for eradication will bring out lots of enthusiasm, it is hard to see how we can mount a global program, based on fantasy.

And let's admit that the Gates and Clinton Foundations mean well but are divorced from reality, USAID and the PMI are mired in decades of bureaurocratic tangles, and the UN and WHO left the scene a long time ago, so the attack on malaria in Africa will progress as Africa progresses.

Realism will work better than fantasy.

Let's take Africa, where most malaria deaths occur. A realistic strategy would be to start in the stable, most democratic countries, and gradually develop competent national programs, employing nationals who live in the malaria zone, who can progress upward in their civil service by making progress against malaria in small and carefully measured increments.

So they would reduce malaria prev in school kids by 10% each year, at a cost within the national budget realities. That gives us a solid foundation for progress. Forget the magic bullets and fantasy. Malaria control takes careful application of proven methods - all of them - in a rational strategy that reflects budget realities as well as the ecology of malaria.

Start with the solid countries, where investments will not be wasted on some dictator and his cronies. Start with Senegal, Mali and Ghana. With Tanzania and Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and blessed South Africa. Grow those programs slowly and carefully. Use them as training grounds for folks around them who speak the same language. Realize that we are dealing with Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Swahili.

Final note: I think it is the third law of for attacking malaria in Africa - The dictators are as dangerous as the mosquitoes.

Willy