World Malaria Report 2014: Dramatic progress (no call for DDT)

December 9, 2014

World Malaria Report 2014 dropped this week.  It’s the annual report from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the fight against malaria, the problems, critical needs — and this year, wonderful news of progress.

Cover of WHO's World Malaria Report 2014, a child, and the red blood cells the malaria parasites attack.

Cover of WHO’s World Malaria Report 2014, a child, and the red blood cells the malaria parasites attack.

Copies of the report in .pdf format come in English, French and Spanish.  A host of supplemental materials and statistical compilations accompany the report every year.

The World Malaria Report 2014 summarizes information received from malaria-endemic countries and other sources, and updates the analyses presented in the 2013 report.

It assesses global and regional malaria trends, highlights progress towards global targets, and describes opportunities and challenges in controlling and eliminating the disease. The report was launched in the United Kingdom Houses of Parliament on 9 December 2014.

The press release on the report, from WHO:

Scale-up in effective malaria control dramatically reduces deaths

News release

The number of people dying from malaria has fallen dramatically since 2000 and malaria cases are also steadily declining, according to the World malaria report 2014. Between 2000 and 2013, the malaria mortality rate decreased by 47% worldwide and by 54% in the WHO African Region – where about 90% of malaria deaths occur.

New analysis across sub-Saharan Africa reveals that despite a 43% population increase, fewer people are infected or carry asymptomatic malaria infections every year: the number of people infected fell from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013.

“We can win the fight against malaria,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO. “We have the right tools and our defences are working. But we still need to get those tools to a lot more people if we are to make these gains sustainable.”

Between 2000 and 2013, access to insecticide-treated bed nets increased substantially. In 2013, almost half of all people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa had access to an insecticide-treated net, a marked increase from just 3% in 2004. And this trend is set to continue, with a record 214 million bed nets scheduled for delivery to endemic countries in Africa by year-end.

Access to accurate malaria diagnostic testing and effective treatment has significantly improved worldwide. In 2013, the number of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) procured globally increased to 319 million, up from 46 million in 2008. Meanwhile, in 2013, 392 million courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), a key intervention to treat malaria, were procured, up from 11 million in 2005.

Moving towards elimination

Globally, an increasing number of countries are moving towards malaria elimination, and many regional groups are setting ambitious elimination targets, the most recent being a declaration at the East Asia Summit to eliminate malaria from the Asia-Pacific region by 2030.

In 2013, 2 countries reported zero indigenous cases for the first time (Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka), and 11 countries succeeded in maintaining zero cases (Argentina, Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan). Another 4 countries reported fewer than 10 local cases annually (Algeria, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica and El Salvador).

Fragile gains

But significant challenges remain: “The next few years are going to be critical to show that we can maintain momentum and build on the gains,” notes Dr Pedro L Alonso, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme.

In 2013, one third of households in areas with malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa did not have a single insecticide treated net. Indoor residual spraying, another key vector control intervention, has decreased in recent years, and insecticide resistance has been reported in 49 countries around the world.

Even though diagnostic testing and treatment have been strengthened, millions of people continue to lack access to these interventions. Progress has also been slow in scaling up preventive therapies for pregnant women, and in adopting recommended preventive therapies for children under 5 years of age and infants.

In addition, resistance to artemisinin has been detected in 5 countries of the Greater Mekong subregion and insufficient data on malaria transmission continues to hamper efforts to reduce the disease burden.

Dr Alonso believes, however, that with sufficient funding and commitment huge strides forward can still be made. “There are biological and technical challenges, but we are working with partners to be proactive in developing the right responses to these. There is a strong pipeline of innovative new products that will soon transform malaria control and elimination. We can go a lot further,” he says.

While funding to combat malaria has increased threefold since 2005, it is still only around half of the US$ 5.1 billion that is needed if global targets are to be achieved.

“Against a backdrop of continued insufficient funding the fight against malaria needs a renewed focus to ensure maximum value for money,” says Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. “We must work together to strengthen country ownership, empower communities, increase efficiencies, and engage multiple sectors outside health. We need to explore ways to do things better at all levels.”

Ray Chambers, who has served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria since 2007, highlights the remarkable progress made in recent years. “While staying focused on the work ahead, we should note that the number of children dying from malaria today is markedly less than 8 years ago. The world can expect even greater reductions in malaria cases and mortality by the end of 2015, but any death from malaria remains simply unacceptable,” he says.

Gains at risk in Ebola-affected countries

At particular risk is progress on malaria in countries affected by the Ebola virus. The outbreak in West Africa has had a devastating impact on malaria treatment and the roll-out of malaria interventions. In Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the 3 countries most severely affected by the epidemic, the majority of inpatient health facilities remain closed, while attendance at outpatient facilities is down to a small fraction of rates seen prior to the outbreak.

Given the intense malaria transmission in these 3 countries, which together saw an estimated 6.6 million malaria cases and 20 000 malaria deaths in 2013, WHO has issued new guidance on temporary measures to control the disease during the Ebola outbreak: to provide ACTs to all fever patients, even when they have not been tested for malaria, and to carry out mass anti-malaria drug administration with ACTs in areas that are heavily affected by the Ebola virus and where malaria transmission is high. In addition, international donor financing is being stepped up to meet the further recommendation that bednets be distributed to all affected areas.

Note to editors

Globally, 3.2 billion people in 97 countries and territories are at risk of being infected with malaria. In 2013, there were an estimated 198 million malaria cases worldwide (range 124-283 million), 82% of which were in the WHO African region. Malaria was responsible for an estimated 584 000 deaths worldwide in 2013 (range: 367 000 – 755 000), killing an estimated 453 000 children under five years of age.

Based on an assessment of trends in reported malaria cases, a total of 64 countries are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of reversing the incidence of malaria. Of these, 55 are on track to meet Roll Back Malaria and World Health Assembly targets of reducing malaria case incidence rates by 75% by 2015.

The World malaria report 2014 will be launched on 9 December 2014 in the United Kingdom Houses of Parliament. The event will be co-hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (APPMG) and Malaria No More UK.

Contacts for press queries will be found at the link above.

Canadian-educated, Dr. Margaret Chan of the Peoples Republic of China heads the World Health Organization.

Canadian-educated, Dr. Margaret Chan of the Peoples Republic of China heads the World Health Organization, the world’s leading anti-malaria organization.

You may note that the press release says nothing about DDT, the pesticide most famous in the malaria fight after World War II.  WHO abandoned its ambitious campaign to eradicate malaria from the Earth, in the mid-1960s, when it was discovered that mosquitoes in central Africa and other malaria-endemic regions near the tropics were already resistant or immune to the pesticide.  DDT had been used by super-mosquito fighter Fred Soper, in campaigns by the Rockefeller Foundation and WHO, to knock down mosquito populations temporarily, to get breathing room to beat malaria.  While the populations were temporarily reduced, health workers would frantically work to diagnose and completely treat to a cure, malaria infections in humans. Then, when the mosquito populations came roaring back, the bugs would have no well of disease from which to draw parasites for new infections.

Soper’s methods used DDT sprayed on walls of homes, to specifically get those mosquitoes that bite humans. Anopheles spp. mosquitoes carry malaria parasites through a critical part of the parasites’ life cycle; those mosquitoes typically bite from about dusk to just after midnight.  After a blood meal, mosquitoes pause to rest on nearby vertical structures — walls in this case — to squeeze out excess water from the blood they’ve ingested, so they’re light enough to fly.  When the mosquito encounters DDT on the walls, the hope is that the DDT kills the mosquito, ending the transmission cycle.

A brutal public relations campaign in Africa, the U.S. and Europe through the late 1990s to now, has vilified science writer Rachel Carson for her indictment of DDT in Silent Spring, her brilliant book on the dangers of indiscriminate use of untested new chemicals.

So it’s important to note that the world’s leading organization that fights malaria makes no call for more DDT.  Professional health care workers worldwide have not been hornswoggled by pro-DDT, anti-environment, anti-science, anti-WHO propaganda.  That’s good news, too.

More:


Pearl Harbor survivors dwindle, but still make the pilgrimage

December 7, 2014

Back in 2008, most of the formal reunions stopped. http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/pearl-harbor-a-day-that-will-live-in-infamy/

We owe them, big time.

Wikipedia image. Pearl Harbor Survivors Assn breaks ground on USS Oklahoma Memorial, in 2006

Wikipedia caption:  Members of the Peral Harbor Survivors Association break ground on USS Oklahoma Memorial, in 2006

 


Fly your flag December 7, 2014, for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

December 7, 2014

President Obama paid respects to those who died at Pearl Harbor on a visit in 2011; White House caption: President Barack Obama places a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial, part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama paid respects to those who died at Pearl Harbor on a visit in 2011; White House caption: President Barack Obama places a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial, part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

From the White House:

Presidential Proclamation — National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2014
NATIONAL PEARL HARBOR REMEMBRANCE DAY, 2014

- – – – – – -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes thundered over Hawaii, dropping bombs in an unprovoked act of war against the United States.The attack claimed the lives of more than 2,400 Americans.It nearly destroyed our Pacific Fleet, but it could not shake our resolve.While battleships smoldered in the harbor, patriots from across our country enlisted in our Armed Forces, volunteering to take up the fight for freedom and security for which their brothers and sisters made the ultimate sacrifice.On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we pay tribute to the souls lost 73 years ago, we salute those who responded with strength and courage in service of our Nation, and we renew our dedication to the ideals for which they so valiantly fought.

In the face of great tragedy at Pearl Harbor — our first battle of the Second World War — our Union rallied together, driven by the resilient and unyielding American spirit that defines us.The millions of Americans who signed up and shipped out inspired our Nation and put us on the path to victory in the fight against injustice and oppression around the globe.As they stormed the beaches of Normandy and planted our flag in the sands of Iwo Jima, our brave service members rolled back the tide of tyranny in Europe and throughout the Pacific theater.Because of their actions, nations that once knew only the blinders of fear saw the dawn of liberty.

The men and women of the Greatest Generation went to war and braved hardships to make the world safer, freer, and more just.As we reflect on the lives lost at Pearl Harbor, we remember why America gave so much for the survival of liberty in the war that followed that infamous day.Today, with solemn gratitude, we recall the sacrifice of all who served during World War II, especially those who gave their last full measure of devotion and the families they left behind.As proud heirs to the freedom and progress secured by those who came before us, we pledge to uphold their legacy and honor their memory.

The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2014, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.I encourage all

Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities.I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff this December 7 in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA

If your flag staff doesn’t have a half-staff ability, fly the flag anyway.

If you’re wondering: no, this flag-flying date has not been added to the Flag Code; but according to the law, it will recur every year.

More: 


Oh, yes! T. Rex showerhead

December 5, 2014

3-D printing just got my interest big time:

From University of Utah's Twitter feed (@UUtah): RT @MarriottLibrary: 3D printed T-Rex showerhead? Yes, please!

From University of Utah’s Twitter feed (@UUtah): RT @MarriottLibrary: 3D printed T-Rex showerhead? Yes, please!

Is it for sale?  To alumni, maybe?


Changing a nation’s flag? New Zealand might

December 4, 2014

A few of us, a vanishing few, remember when Canada changed its flag in 1965.

Canada's flag in 1965. Wikipedia image.

Canada’s flag in 1965, featuring the British Union Jack. This design dates from 1957, following several earlier, similar designs. Wikipedia image.

Change the flag?  What a concept!

We probably forget that the U.S. flag, while recognizable since 1789, changed quite a bit between then and now, mostly in stars, but also in stripes.

Here’s what Canada settled on in 1965, after a surprisingly bitter debate that ran for months in 1964:

Wikipedia:  The National Flag of Canada,[1] also known as the Maple Leaf and l'Unifolié (French for

Wikipedia: The National Flag of Canada,[1] also known as the Maple Leaf and l’Unifolié (French for “the one-leafed”), is a flag consisting of a red field with a white square at its centre, in the middle of which is featured a stylized, 11-pointed, red maple leaf. Adopted in 1965 to replace the Union Flag, it is the first ever specified by statute law for use as the country’s national flag. The Canadian Red Ensign had been unofficially used since the 1890s and was approved by a 1945 Order in Council for use “wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag”

New Zealand contemplates changing her flag, with a referendum on the action pending, probably in 2016.  What are they in for?  Will the debate in New Zealand be so bitter as Canada’s was?

At the BBC site, a few more details:

New Zealand is to hold a binding referendum in 2016 on whether to change the national flag.

The announcement by Prime Minister John Key of the referendum came after his government last month won a third term in a general election.

A panel of “respected New Zealanders” will lead the public discussion on potential designs for a new flag.

Mr Key has previously said he would like to see a new flag featuring a silver fern, on a black background.

That would be similar to the banner already used by many New Zealand teams such as the All Blacks national rugby union team.

“I believe that this is the right time for New Zealanders to consider changing the [flag’s] design to one that better reflects our status as a modern, independent nation,” Mr Key said.

Photo illustrating the BBC story, showing the silver fern flag of the New Zealand All Blacks football club -- Getty Images

Photo illustrating the BBC story, showing the silver fern flag of the New Zealand All Blacks football club — Getty Images

A fern leaf.  Hey, that’s rather like Canada’s switch from the mostly-red flag with a Union Jack to a maple leaf.  Canada’s been happy with that flag for more than 50 years, now.  Right?

Wait. Canadian Prime Minister Harper wants to change the maple leaf now?

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper surprised media this morning by unveiling a “new-look” Canadian flag in red, white, and blue that “just by fluke” matches the colours of the Conservative Party’s logo.

“I was doodling with my magic markers a while back and it just came to me out of the blue. Our flag needs some blue!” said Harper sporting a lapel pin with his proposed new flag design.

“Frankly, the boring old flag doesn’t reflect my new Canada…we needed something with more energy, something gutsier to better reflect my world leadership role.”

Harper’s doodle, cleaned up a bit:

A new flag for Canada, with blue added in?  And what a lovely shade of blue it is . . . why does it make us suspicious?

A new flag for Canada, with blue added in? Stephen Harper’s proposed new flag. And what a lovely shade of blue it is . . . why does it make us suspicious?

When a CBC reporter pointed out that Harper’s new flag colours are identical to the Conservative Party logo the PM said he was surprised by the question and hadn’t really noticed the similarity.

“Wow…I guess if you squint at our new flag you could maybe see some loose, loose likeness to my party’s logo colours.  But my new design really captures the new Canada…bold and not to be messed with.”

ConservativePartyLogoSmaller

“Proud Canadians will rally behind this new flag as a patriotic symbol of what Canada has become.”

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau reacted immediately telling the Ottawa Citizen, “I, like most Canadians, must now question the very sanity of Mr. Harper.  Has he gone nuts?  That’s a real and pressing question.  Has Mr. Harper’s ego finally won the sweaty arm-wrestling match that goes on in his brain.”

“The NDP has been calling loudly for increased spending on mental health care and Mr. Harper just proved the need,” said opposition leader Tom Mulcair.

[Well, no, not really.  Notice that the source of the Canadian flag proposal is The Lapine, Canada’s most successful on-line satirical news site — the Onion of the Frozen North.  Yes, I got suckered in, until I read the entire article; if it makes you shake your head, be suspicious, even if it doesn’t trigger your Hemingway™ Shit Detector. New Zealand is serious, though.]

Flag wars ahead!  Social studies teachers, you should tee this up so your students can enjoy the popcorn.

Good thing the U.S. had Betsy Ross around to tell the rebels what the flag would be, eh?*

More, and resources:


60 years ago this month: Disneyland, a gleam in Walt’s eye

December 3, 2014

Let’s check the archives.

From the Orange County Archives: Walt Disney shows Disneyland plans to Orange County officials, Dec. 1954  The men in the front row (left to right) are Anaheim Mayor Charles Pearson, Orange County Supervisor Willis Warner, Walt Disney, Supervisor Willard Smith, and Orange County Planning Commission Chairman Dr. W. L. Bigham. The photo was taken at Disney Studios in Burbank. Photo from the Orange County Archives' Willard Smith Collection.

From the Orange County Archives: Walt Disney shows Disneyland plans to Orange County officials, December 1954.
The men in the front row (left to right) are Anaheim Mayor Charles Pearson, Orange County Supervisor Willis Warner, Walt Disney, Supervisor Willard Smith, and Orange County Planning Commission Chairman Dr. W. L. Bigham. The photo was taken at Disney Studios in Burbank. Photo courtesy the Orange County Archives’ Willard Smith Collection.

Newspaper and public relations photography relied heavily on posed images such as this one, through most of the 20th century.  Cameras often were bulky.  For a good image, film was slow, with a lot of light needed.  Public groups often were taken out of an office or auditorium and posed in the sun, as here, just to get enough light.

By the end of the 1950s, faster films and smaller cameras encouraged more spontaneous photos of events.  Especially after the Kennedy presidential campaign hired a photographer to take candid shots, which showed up everywhere, candid photos started to take over newspapers.

Posing these photographs was an art itself, an art mostly lost these days.

These posed photographs still beat most selfies.

More:

  • Early History of Disneyland in Pictures, slideshow at the Orange County Register; that site suggests an alternative caption for the photo above:
    July 21, 1954 – Race against time
    Walt Disney visited Anaheim often to oversee every detail of the construction. On July 21, 1954, the park held its official groundbreaking – starting a race against time to build Disneyland in one year. Shown here, Anaheim Mayor Charles Pearson, left, with O.C. Supervisor William Warner, Walt Disney, O.C. Supervisor Willard Smith and O.C. Planning Commission Chair W.L. Bigham look at plans for what would soon be called The Happiest Place on Earth.
    REGISTER ARCHIVE PHOTO, TEXT BY TOM BERG, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Flying your flags in Illinois today? December 3 is Illinois Statehood Day

December 3, 2014

American Experience reminded us at Facebook that December 3 is the anniversary of the day Illnois was admitted to the union in 1818, the 21st state.

Under the U.S. flag Code, Americans should fly their U.S. flags on the statehood day of their state.

You flying ‘em, Illinois?  If you’re in this area, you should be!

Map of the Illinois territory, about 1818, the year the state was admitted to the union, on December 3.

Map of the Illinois territory, about 1818, the year the state was admitted to the union, on December 3.

At the American Memory site at the Library of Congress, we get a good, brief dose of the events leading to statehood.

Land of Lincoln

Map of Springfield, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois, 1867. Drawn from Nature.
A. Ruger, 1867.
Map Collections

Illinois entered the Union on December 3, 1818. The twenty-first state takes its name from the Illinois Confederation—a group of Algonquian-speaking tribes native to the area. An Algonquian word, “Illinois” means “tribe of superior men.”

Remnants of a much earlier Algonquin civilization thought the most sophisticated prehistoric society north of Mexico, are preserved at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in the southwestern part of the state.

French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette entered the Illinois region in 1673. Control of the territory passed to Great Britain in 1763. When the United States acquired the land that became Illinois Territory in 1783, most European settlers there were of French descent. In 1788, the Continental Congress received information concerning the inhabitants of the Illinois area. “There are sundry French settlements on the river Mississippi within the tract,” the committee reported:

Near the mouth of the riverKaskaskies, there is a village which appears to have contained near eighty families from the beginning of the late revolution. There are twelve families in a small village at la Prairie duRochers, and near fifty families—the Kahokia village. There are also four or five families at fort Chartres and St. Philips, which is five miles farther up the river. The heads of families in those villages appear each of them to have had a certain quantity of arable land allotted to them, and a proportionate quantity of meadow and of woodland or pasture. The Committee…referred the memorial of George Morgan…respecting a tract of land in the Illinois, June 20, 1788.
Documents from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789

Twenty years later, Congress organized the Illinois Territory. Pioneers from Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee settled the southern part of the territory, while New Englanders ventured to northern Illinois via the Erie Canal.

Land of Lincoln, the state slogan, pays homage to famous son Abraham Lincoln. Born in Kentucky, Lincoln came to Illinois in 1830. He was instrumental, along with his colleagues in the Illinois legislature, in moving the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield. Settling there in 1837, Lincoln married socially prominent resident Mary Todd, practiced law, and built the political career that brought him the presidency in 1861.

Bird's-eye view of Chicago
Bird’s-Eye View of Chicago
,
c 1913.
Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991

Chicago, a minor trading post at the southwestern tip of Lake Michigan until the 1830s, developed into a railroad hub and industrial center. After the Civil War, industrialization attracted a new wave of immigrants. People from all over the U.S. and the world ventured to Chicago to work in the meat-packing and steel industries. Even the Great Conflagration of 1871 failed to prevent the Windy City from becoming one of the largest urban centers in the country. It remains the third most populous city and metropolitan area in the United States.

General view of  Illinois Central Railroad freight terminal
General View of Illinois Central Railroad Freight Terminal, Chicago, Illinois,
Jack Delano, photographer, April 1943.
America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945

Learn more about Illinois:

Lotta history there.

U.S., Illinois and City of Chicago flags in a stiff breeze at the Navy Pier, Chicago. Photo by John Junker, at flickr.

U.S., Illinois and City of Chicago flags in a stiff breeze at the Navy Pier, Chicago. Photo by John Junker, at flickr. (copyright to Junker, too)


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