Wednesday, May 03, 2006

World Bank's malaria plan gets bitten

Malaria is one of the world's neglected diseases, accounting about 1 million deaths a year, but receiving far less press -- and far less funding for research and treatment -- than HIV/AIDS. In Africa, the disease is the leading parasitic cause of death for Africa's children and impoverishment for their families. So when the World Bank decided to step in with its Global Strategy and Booster Plan to tackle malaria in resource-poor countries, there was a sense that finally something is really being done.

According to a recent online article by Attaran et. al. in the Lancet (summarized here), the World Bank is doing something alright: it has failed to uphold a pledge to increase funding for malaria control in Africa, has claimed success in its malaria programmes by putting forward false epidemiological statistics, and has approved clinically obsolete treatments for a potentially deadly form of malaria. Instead of scaling up recruitment of malaria staff, it downsided it. According to the authors of the piece, the Bank possesses little expertise in malaria, and basically should give leave malaria control to other institutions that know what they are doing. Ouch, that stings.


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