Obama has come up with a plan to eradicate all malaria deaths by 2015 [Hat tip to Aetiology]. Good on him, I say. Malaria is a nasty disease – I think I read somewhere that the parasites that actually cause the illness, the genus Plasmodium , have caused half of all infectious disease-related deaths since the Stone Age. Even now, in the ‘modern age’, it’s rampant – 515 million cases per year. Surprised? Well, since almost all of those deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, we don’t hear about it as much – especially because there is no shortage of bad things going on over there to be worried about. This map, from Worldmapper.org (another awesome site to spend a minute or 100 on), shows your standard world map, with the size of each country adjusted for the number of people who die of malaria per year there. As you can see, North America and Western Europe are basically a series of lines, South America has enough area to actually see different countries, India and Southeast Asia are still larger, and Africa is enormous.
Apparently, there are some doubts as to the efficacy of Obama’s plan, but it is better than McCain’s, which is pretty much nonexistent (as I clutch my pearls in shock). In any case, this news makes me happy, because:
- Obama, even before he’s in office, is already making long-term goals and plans to see them through
- He’s addressing something that’s a problem in other parts of the world, but not here – i.e., he’s able to not only deal with domestic problems, but use America’s still-considerable clout and money to actually help a huge number of people, rather than the Bush Doctrine way of ‘liberation with bombs’.
- Most importantly, as an avowed science/medicine nerd, I am always titillated by talk of The Germs.
Seriously, though. Anybody interested in the topic should totally check out the Wikipedia article, as it has lots of interesting information on the socioeconomic factors influencing and influenced by malaria, and also because I shouldn’t just steal any more information from it without giving Wikipedia its much-deserved props.