The World Health Organization has recently declared the People’s Republic of China “malaria free.” China is the 40th country to get on that list. The director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, issued a statement congratulating China on a victory that was hard-earned, coming “only after decades of targeted and sustained action.”
Malaria is a fearsome disease, with such symptoms as headache, fever, shivering, joint pain, vomiting, hemolytic anemia, jaundice, bloody urine, retinal damage, and convulsions.
It is spread by a unicellular parasite, plasmodium, which gets into the human bloodstream as the consequence of mosquito bites.
Given the mosquitoes role in the lifecycle of the plasmodium, malaria is a more serious problem in tropical and semi-tropical environments, where those insects are far more common than in temperate areas.
In Pill Form:
The human species has been on the offensive against malaria, a long and difficult but winning struggle (as exhibited in that list of 40 named countries the WHO now deems free of the disease) ever since 1901, when Dr. Walter Reed demonstrated the mosquitoes’ role in its spread. Reed was working on a hypothesis developed by a Cuban scientist, Carlos Finley.