A researcher at the University of Southampton, working as part of a team from the UK and USA, believes the global eradication of malaria could be achieved by individual countries eliminating the disease within their own borders and coordinating efforts regionally. The team's findings have been published in the journal Science.
Dr Andrew Tatem explains, "In 1955 a global programme was launched to eradicate Malaria, but funding collapsed in 1969 and ultimately eradication wasn't achieved. We have examined what was learned from this programme and how malaria has since been eliminated in individual countries.
"Our findings suggest it may be possible for malaria elimination to proceed like a ratchet, tightening the grip on the disease region-by-region, country-by-country, until eradication is ultimately achieved - but without the need for a globally coordinated campaign."
The research team examined data from 1980 onwards for 30 countries which successfully eliminated malaria and also took part in the 1955 Global Malaria Eradication Programme (GMEP). In these countries, elimination has become highly stable, transmission (or infection) has declined and resurgence has occurred far less frequently than traditional theory would predict.
Three potential reasons for this decline and stability of malaria have been suggested:
* declines in transmission rates resulting from urbanization and economic development
* a high-degree of transmission control from treating malaria cases combined with outbreak control
* low-connectivity among places that are highly receptive to transmission