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More Money Has Been Spent on Treating Baldness than on Malaria

More Money Has Been Spent on Treating Baldness than on Malaria

So announced Bill Gates at the recent Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Long Beach, California. He jokingly pointed out that “baldness is a terrible thing and rich men are afflicted. That is why the priority has been set. The market does not drive scientists, thinkers or governments to do the right things. Only by paying attention and making people care can we make as much progress as we need to.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation lists malaria prevention as one of its main causes, funding an anti-malaria vaccine that is still in development. Besides a vaccine, simple protective gear such as insect nets would make a tremendous difference in the lives of those most vulnerable to malaria in Africa and Asia.

However malaria still thrives as a plague of the poor. While there is no vaccine, there are pills to help prevent malaria, but are usually only available to travelers from wealthier nations. Treatment for malaria is often too expensive for the poor, and their bodies can often develop a resistance to it. Meanwhile, about 2.7 million people die from the disease each year, the vast majority being children.

Last week Australian researchers announced they had discovered a new way to treat malaria by deactivating an enzyme that parasites use to feed on red blood cells. While this is great news, the question of accessiblity to the poor, and most affected, still remains. This is a question for those in power, namely governments and pharmeceutical companies, who will somehow need to put aside their desire for profit in the name of humanity and social justice.

Besides Gates, Bill Clinton and his Clinton Foundation have also joined the fight against malaria. Show your support in their fight to make treatment more accessible to the poor by adding your signature to the petition.

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5 comments

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10:02AM PST on Feb 15, 2009

This is just outrageous when so many children in Aftrica are dying of malaria. I know our country is doing lots to provide mosquito nets, but more should be done for these children!

2:34AM PST on Feb 12, 2009

To address the theme of this article...
More Money Has Been Spent on Treating Baldness than on Malaria
Why does this come as no surprise? Western society for all its grandstanding on social issues such as Malaria, HIV, etc. is more concerned about outwardly appearance than the lives of those affected by these types of disease.
Granted, there are those who donate handsomely to these causes and I applaud them loudly; but what about those who choose instead to 'youthanize' themselves? Further adding to the narcissistic image of Western society.
Sadly in spite of the great contributions of the West toward eradicating Malaria and such disease, this blog and others is a reminder that we, as a society could be a bit more caring and compassionate toward our brothers and sisters less fortunate.
Thanx Natasha for your contribution to the awareness of how much farther we, as a society need to go.

12:38PM PST on Feb 10, 2009

Mosquito nets is the most effective and education to locals of the spead is so important. I had maleria, 14years ago when visiting India, the disease is so horrible.

12:08PM PST on Feb 10, 2009

Are mosquito nets available to every one ?

8:33AM PST on Feb 10, 2009

As in the fight against HIV/AIDS, medical treatment will not be available to all unless and until we end the proprietory system of drugs and medicine. Gates is well aware of this, but he doesn't want to tackle the main issue since it has implications related to his income from Microsoft.

Medicine is important in the struggle against maleria, but prevention is even more important. Mosquito nets for all and elimination of breeding grounds would go much further in preventing maleria than any kind of medicine. These efforts would also have the side effect of helping stop the spread of denge, another deadly, mosquito-borne disease.

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