Thursday 21 October 2010

Malaria - is it even worse than we thought?

A new report, produced by the US National Institutes of Health among others, claims there are perhaps 13 times more deaths from malaria in India than official figures suggest. In rural India, well over 1 million people a year die from infectious diseases, where acute fever is the main symptom, but beyond that the condition often goes undiagnosed.

By interviewing a sample of bereaved families, the researchers came to the conclusion that there are up to 205,000 malaria deaths a year in India, compared to the World Health Organisation’s figure of 10-21,000. The WHO does not accept this conclusion, but agrees there might be limitations in its own calculations.

Across the world, malaria is thought to kill more than 1 million people a year, though, if the researchers are right about India, this may be a serious underestimate. The number of cases has risen over the last 30 years, partly through mosquitoes becoming resistant to drugs and insecticides. (See also my blogs of 11 April, 30 May, 24 Sept, 2009.)

*Out next month in paperback! A Disastrous History of the World.

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