World Mosquito Day on 20 August 2011 reminds us once again that the battle to defeat malaria is far from over. Its 114 years since Dr Ronald Ross discovered the link between malaria and its transmission by the female Anopheles gambiae mosquito. Since then medicines have been developed which control it’s symptoms, but preventing infection has proved more difficult.
ARCHIVE has long advocated the use of prevention over cure, utilising innovative housing design and modification as an effective method of combating malaria.
Globally, the strategy followed by national governments, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and a host of other NGO’s, has been to spray with insecticides and distribute insecticide impregnated bed nets. Unfortunately mosquitoes develop immunity to the chemicals over time, rendering this approach less effective. Research supporting this view has recently been published in the Lancet. Even the netting only works when used correctly. In very poor communities, free bed nets have been put to other uses including fishing, sieves, room dividers and wedding dress veils. In any case, nets only last a few years before needing to be replaced.
ARCHIVE is participating in a project in the northern region of Cameroon where malaria is one of the top three causes of death. The project aims to show how malaria transmission can be combated through innovative housing design and modifications. Research shows that preventive measures such as screening doors, windows and ceilings and blocking spaces under the eaves, significantly reduces the incidence of malaria. We advocate improved housing and living conditions as a viable long term solution for eradicating malaria.