I’ve written quite a bit about malaria and the campaign that Tukae are running to raise money for a clinical officer and technician to be based at Emau Hill for a year. They will provide free malaria treatment for all children under the age of 13, following Tanzanian government guidelines. So I was interested to read in the latest copy of Scientific American that a company is developing a chemical that kills viral pathogens but also suppresses the development of the plasmodium parasite that causes malaria.

The so called ‘provector’ will use visual, olfactory and chemical signals to entice the mosquitoes to ingest the antimalarial and antiviral treatments. They haven’t finalised the delivery method yet, but it looks like it might be in the form of an artificial flower which while being shielded from other insects, will have a protective surface that will allow the mosquitoes’ proboscis to get through to reach the petals. This is a totally different way of looking at Malaria prevention, in that they are targetting the pathogens themselves, rather than the mosquitoes, which are just the carriers. Whatever it takes, it is important that this killer disease is conquered. It can and does kill children in the East Usambaras where Steve and the team are working. The World Health organisation fact sheet on malaria has the chilling statistics – ‘an African child has between 1.6 and 5.4 episodes of malaria fever each year’ and every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria.

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