Monday, August 15, 2005

LAT - "An effective, but costly, cure"

They got it right on Roberts but wrong on Malaria. I guess 1 for 2 isn't too bad. "An effective, but costly, cure - Los Angeles Times":
"ASK RICHARD IDRO IF HE HAD MALARIA as a child, and you will begin to grasp the toll this disease takes on sub-Saharan Africa. Patiently, as though explaining breathing to a visiting Martian, he will answer, 'Everybody got malaria.'"...

"The story of malaria in the 30 years since Idro's recovery isn't nearly as uplifting. The mosquito-borne parasite has grown resistant to the drug that cured him. Malaria's mortality rate is higher today than it has been in decades.

Yet it doesn't have to be this way. Even in tropical Africa, where the Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit the parasites thrive, everybody doesn't have to get malaria.

Historically, vaccines have been responsible for reining in some of the world's worst diseases. In an earlier editorial, we urged the United States and other wealthy nations to speed progress by committing in advance to a $4-billion purchasing fund, to be tapped only if an effective vaccine is developed. This innovative, market-based complement to the "push" of grants would "pull" more biotech firms and their armies of scientists into the search by guaranteeing a payoff for success.

But sub-Saharan Africa's dying children can't wait years for a vaccine. Here too the world's wealthy nations can help, by creating a similar fund to pay for an exciting but expensive drug compound made from a Chinese herb."

LAT promotes hugely expensive high tech methods when there is a cheaper and better alternative, the use of DDT to control the mosquito population. Before you fly off the handle, I have read "Silent Spring" and I am fairly well versed on the problems with DDT but we need a cheap and effective method of control. It must be used as part of an integrated plan but Mexico proved it's value. Only the current first world mindset around DDT prevents it's use.

But that will never happen. And African children will continue to die.