Efforts to eradicate malaria in some countries may be counter-productive, an international team of researchers suggest.
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Malaria is caused by five species of a parasite that can be carried from human to human by mosquitoes.
Over the last 150 years, the portion of the world where malaria is still endemic has shrunk, but the disease is still endemic in 99 countries.
However 32 of these countries, most of them on the edges of the endemic zone, are attempting to eradicate the disease, while the rest are trying to reduce infections and deaths though control measures.
But switching from a policy of controlling the disease to one of eradication brings with it problems and risks, according to the report.
The authors point out that malaria and mosquitoes do not respect national borders and that both parasite and insect may develop resistance to existing drugs.
They also warn switching funds from control to eradication may negatively impact upon measures which have been shown to reduce infection and mortality.
A spokeswoman for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said: "Malaria eradication is a long-term goal.
"We believe that the WHO will play an important role in helping countries decide when they are ready to undertake elimination and what conditions and capabilities need to be in place for them to do so.
"High-level, sustained control will be essential before elimination can be attempted, and premature efforts at elimination, before countries are ready, will be counterproductive."
"Malaria eradication should be both a long-term and short-term goal. It is possible to eradicate malaria as history has shown. We now have more sophisticated tools and a lot of studies has been done to achieve this goal. Where there is a will, there is a way..."
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