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Eradication of malaria is possible, but not soon

The World Health Organization says it is theoretically possible to erase malaria, but probably not by using imperfect vaccines and other control methods at the moment.

Dr Pedro Alonso, global director of the UN health agency, global director of malaria, said the WHO was "unambiguously committed" to eradication, but the main questions remain about its feasibility.

At a press briefing on Thursday, Alonso acknowledged that "with the tools we have today, it is unlikely to be eradicated."

Alonso presented the results of a WHO commissioned report assessing whether malaria eradication should be carried out.

He said the experts concluded that uncertainties remained that they were unable to formulate a clear strategy and therefore could not propose a definitive timetable or estimate of the eradication costs.

WHO has long been dealing with the idea of ​​removing malaria from the planet. The eradication campaign was first attempted in 1955, before being abandoned more than a decade later.

For decades, healthcare professionals have been pushed out of even discussing eradication – until the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have thrown their considerable resources behind the idea.

Measles is the only human disease that has ever been eradicated. In 1988, WHO and partners launched a global campaign aimed at destroying polio by 2000.

Despite numerous effective vaccines and billions of dollars invested, efforts in recent years and officials have consistently missed targets for eradication.

Although several African countries began immunizing children against malaria in national programs this year, the footage protects only about one-third of the children they receive.

Parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people each year, mostly children in Africa.

"An effective vaccine is something we desperately need if we ever want to get malaria under control and we just don't have it," said Alistair Craig, dean of biological sciences at the School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool.

A previous trial showed that the vaccine was effective at about 30 percent in children who received four doses, but that protection disappeared over time.

Craig has also expressed concern about whether malaria programs will be able to raise the billions needed, given other competing eradication campaigns, such as polio, guinea pigs and lymphatic filariasis.

"Should we really advocate for malaria or should we concentrate on getting rid of some of these other diseases first?" He asked me.

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