Despite its limited resources, Portugal has gained a prominent position in research on malaria.
Malaria is one of the most life-threatening vector-borne diseases globally. Recent autochthonous cases registered in several European countries have raised awareness regarding the threat of malaria reintroduction to Europe. An increasing number of imported malaria cases today occur due to international travel and migrant flows from malaria-endemic countries. The cumulative factors of the presence of competent vectors, favourable climatic conditions and evidence of increasing temperatures might lead to the re-emergence of malaria in countries where the infection was previously eliminated.
Either intuition or empiricism must have led to the use of antimalarial drugs to both treat and prevent malaria, pre-dating the identification of the malaria parasite and the mode of its transmission. Josep Masdevall in the XVIII century managed epidemics in Spain through the administration of compounds that included the bark of the cinchona tree. In more recent times, mass drug administration (MDA) was the first form of chemoprevention used against malaria in the early 1900s.
Only recently it was discovered that haemoglobin (Hb) belongs to the standard gene repertoire of insects, although their tracheal system is used for respiration. A classical oxygen-carrying function of Hb is only obvious for hexapods living in hypoxic environments.