Well, yes, he’s right you know

The Lancet Commission on malaria eradication received widespread attention this week with its claim that the disease could be eradicated by 2050. This would be a very welcome achievement, as malaria currently kills about 435,000 people – predominantly children – each year.

The report argues that the key to eradicating malaria is the application of existing and new technology, coupled with £1.6bn extra annual funding. Unfortunately, this solution is unlikely to be successful because it fails to address the underlying causes of malaria: grinding poverty and state incapacity.

The actual solution being to drain the wetlands. But how are you going to get that past the environmentalists?

11 comments on “Well, yes, he’s right you know

  1. I’m sure we have given these states enough money fifty times over to do this, the people in charge have simply stolen it. I guess this comes under ‘state incapacity’.

  2. Didn’t we have something which could do this, but was canned because of some dishonest grandstanding by a Progressive in the 1970s/1980s?

  3. Or if we don’t want to drain the wetlands, use insecticides. WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE BEES!!11

    That Rachel Carson has a lot to answer for.

  4. Actually, no DDT wasn’t the “magic Bullet”. It was very successful in some situations but did have serious side effects – and it did engender resistance fairly readily.

    If part of an integrated program it can be very useful but it does have to be controlled. DDT was very widely misused in the 1950’s and early 1960’s and most of its target species (not just mosquitos but many agricultural pests as well) had evolved a significant resistance through such widespread exposure. Even today many mosquito species have some residual resistance to it – and some have a lot.

    The most promising avenues of attack I’ve seen are at the genetic level – if we could engender resistance to the parasite in mosquito’s for example that would be an excellent way to reduce the spread, apparently the parasite is less variable in its mosquito phase and may well be more vulnerable there.

    Rachel Carson did indeed do a disservice, but not to the extent that people imagine. DDT was already being widely phased out before her polemic because of its indiscriminate effects. Most pests live in some equilibrium with their predators and DDT often disrupted this to the detriment of the predators as they concentrated the doses by eating the target insects. Thus often after an initial success the pests returned in strength and rapidly evolved resistance.

  5. You can probably wipe out the few species of mosquitoes that spread these diseases with gene drive or similar technology. Environmentalists can be a bit funny about that, too.

  6. I did notice that when wicked Campbell-Newman ruled Brisbane, the number of mosquitoes around my house diminished remarkably. I always assumed this meant he’d sprayed the swamps with some dire chemical. Needless to say he got my vote.

  7. Aren’t we supposed to be opposed to driving species into extinction? Where’s the campaign to de-extinct smallpox and polio?

  8. @Ed Snack

    True, but we’ve rather moved on from DDT. Though eco-loons are still trying (rather effectively) to obstruct the use of effective pesticides.

    Contrary to the belief of many, farmers don’t simply drive around dowsing their fields in expensive poisons, because they’re expensive. They put a lot of time and effort into working out “what’s the minimum application I can get away with?” (The successful ones do, anyway).

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