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William Jobin's blog

Suppression of malaria, economic development, and electricity

December 22, 2012 - 13:24 -- William Jobin

We are all sure in - our hearts - that suppression of malaria in Africa will improve the rate of economic development. Recently this hope was formalized in an African Futures Brief by Moyer and Emde at the Pardee Center of the University of Denver in their Brief #5 published in November. Their projections indicated that driving the malaria prevalence down to zero in Africa by 2025 would by 2050 result in an increase in income of $30 per year per person, compared to the current average for Africa in 2010 of only $1.25.

Why screening houses is more cost-effective than bednets

August 1, 2012 - 15:50 -- William Jobin

People tend to do quick cost-benefit comparisons of bednets vs metallic screens, and make some large mistakes. Bednets are temporary, protect only against anopheline mosquitoes which bite at night, and are used only about one-third of the time. One of the reasons for their misuse is that they are suffocating to sleep under.

Which is easier, to eradicate malaria or to find the Higgs Boson?

July 15, 2012 - 11:49 -- William Jobin

Last week I was in Geneva, trying to understand the WHO fight against malaria, when - to my delight - the folks at CERN announced that they had found the Higgs Boson! In fact we were driving out near Geneva Airport, right over the Super Hadron Collider, when they made the announcement. But it made me wonder about WHO. Why was it easier for CERN to find the Boson than for WHO to suppress malaria?

Wash your feet

November 27, 2011 - 21:07 -- William Jobin

There is recent interest in the odours from human feet and how they attract blood-sucking mosquitoes.  And apparently the odours are from bacteria on the skin, not necessarily of human origin.

This reminds me of the story of Ignaz Semmelweis of Vienna who confounded his physician colleagues by reporting that deaths in childbirth could be reduced drastically if the attending physician would just wash his hands.  Of course such a radical idea took a long time to be accepted.  In fact I think Semmelweis was drummed out of the profession.

Why mosquitoes?

June 19, 2010 - 12:58 -- William Jobin

Some of us are Seekers who ask “How? We are called Scientists. Some of us are Seekers who ask “Why?” We are called Believers. Some of us are both.

The boy and the old man sat in the shade of their favorite Neem tree during the oppressive heat of the afternoon. “Uncle, why did the Creator make mosquitoes that swarm around our heads and spread fevers?” asked the boy.

Fourth Law - Do the math

May 7, 2010 - 17:26 -- William Jobin

In many countries in Africa, sustained control efforts which had reduced the number of infected people in a population to near zero, were suddenly overcome by explosive epidemics. This happened in Garki Nigeria in the 1970's, and again in central Sudan in the 1980's.


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