More than nets: tackling malaria through development

Does reducing poverty help to tackle malaria? A systematic review of studies on socioeconomic status and malaria in children, published in the Lancet, suggests that greater wealth and standards of living are important for malaria control. The authors include John Thompson, a STEPS Centre member.

Malaria control is often focused on methods from the health sector which can be scaled up, like the use of nets and indoor spraying. But as aid budgets are cut and malaria strains become more resistant to drugs and insecticides, efforts to tackle the disease will be hampered. Malaria itself also has a serious negative effect on development.

While not recommending stopping existing efforts to control the disease, this review and analysis suggests that increased wealth and standards of living could be an effective part of malaria control in the long term.

The review looked at 4,696 studies between 1980 and 2011 and was carried out by researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Institute of Development Studies/STEPS Centre, the National Malaria Control Programme (Sudan) and the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK.

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Lucy S Tusting, Barbara Willey, Henry Lucas, John Thompson, Hmooda T Kafy, Richard Smith, Steve W Lindsay, Socioeconomic development as an intervention against malaria: a systematic review and meta-analysis, The Lancet, Available online 19 June 2013.