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How CDC is Working to Fight Malaria

Posted on by Curt Shannon
Photo of S. Patrick Kuchar
Dr. S. Patrick Kachur grew up on Ohio’s Mosquito Lake. He trained in preventive medicine and public health and has worked on malaria at CDC since 1995.

Meet Dr. S. Patrick Kachur, who oversees CDC’s Malaria Branch. Not only is the Malaria Branch the oldest program at CDC but with more than 60 staff, it’s the largest group of malaria scientists in North America. We recently talked to Dr. Kachur about his work.

What personal experience in your work are you proudest of?

I was fortunate to work with Kenyan and Tanzanian scientists on studies that proved how treated bednets and new combination medicines save lives–even in the remote communities hardest hit by malaria.

How does your work save lives and protect people?

Scientists in CDC’s Malaria Branch help set global and national policies to scale up malaria prevention and treatment.  As a result of CDC’s work, and the efforts of many of our partners, the number of deaths from malaria has fallen from more than 1.5 million to 655,000 in less than ten years.

What is the biggest barrier you face in doing your work?

Even though we have seen tremendous progress in combating malaria in recent years, this could unravel if political will and financial support fall off.  Malaria parasites and the mosquitoes that carry them are constantly adapting and we need to continue our current interventions as well as advance the science that will lead to new tools like the RTS,S vaccine.

What is the most important thing for the public to know about what you do?

CDC started the fight against malaria. Now let’s finish it together.

You can read more about Dr. Kachur and CDC’s malaria team in the CDC Works For You 24/7 article, Malaria Vaccine Trial: Behind the Scenes in Kenya, which describes CDC/Kenya Medical Research Institute’s participation in the RTS,S malaria vaccine Phase III clinical trial.

Posted on by Curt Shannon

3 comments on “How CDC is Working to Fight Malaria”

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    Kenya? KENYA? Is KENYA the 51st state of the U.S.? What the HELL is the CDC doing in KENYA??!! Can’t the CDC find enough to do here in the U.S.?

    Well, readers, if you haven’t figured it out, it’s all about the MONEY, AKA, FUNDING.

    And, the CDC becoming an ever-growing, self-serving bureaucracy, with its tentacles creeping in an ever-widening bottomless pit that consumes BILLIONS in tax dollars.

    Need another example? I received an email from the mighty CDC on the subject of FIRE PREVENTION!


    PS: Somebody needs to inform the CDC that Mr. Bill Gates, of Microsoft fame, is dedicating Billions of his accumulated fortune to eradicate malaria, world-wide. I bet he will get better results than the CDC has, or ever will do.

    Dr. Kachur responds:

    CDC scientists work in more than 60 countries outside the United States to improve and save lives abroad and to make Americans healthier and more secure at home.

    Three billion people—half the world’s population—live in areas at risk of malaria transmission globally. CDC has a mandate from the U.S. Congress to advise the U.S. Government on the science of malaria prevention and control and to be a key implementer of studies to reduce the malaria burden.

    CDC is also broadly recognized by global partners—like the World Health Organization and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/ AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria—as an objective source of advice to guide malaria control investments.

    Increasingly, CDC does more with its malaria expertise with less funding by leveraging resources from private sector and charitable groups that contribute to the world-wide struggle against malaria. One of these, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, played a key role in supporting the vaccine trial described in our on-line feature article.

    Working with our global partners, CDC has averted the deaths of an estimated 1.1 million children in sub-Saharan Africa in the past decade and has cut malaria cases and deaths in half in 11 African countries.

    Our work not only saves lives but increases the stability of countries where widespread disease can claim large proportions of private and public funds, as well as many lives. Stable countries can be better trading partners and neighbors for the U.S.

    In addition, CDC’s global malaria surveillance and warnings help protect travelers from the U.S. or U.S. residents working or serving abroad from becoming ill or dying of malaria. Even though malaria was eliminated from the U.S. by the early 1950s, approximately 1,500 cases are still reported every year in this country by those returning from malarious countries. Since the U.S. is still home to the species of mosquito that can transmit malaria, CDC monitors these cases and takes steps to ensure malaria does not take hold in this country once more.

    I think a lot of people don’t realize how recently malaria was a problem here in the United States, and how vulnerable we could still be, if enough people contracted the disease. Those anopheles mosquitoes are waiting to spring into action again, if enough infected people become available in the US, and with global travel as easy as it is, Africa isn’t that far away for people to bring the infection back.

    While doing research for this article, I was surprised to learn how hard the WHO had tried to eradicate malaria nationwide in the 1950s, after the resounding success around that time in the United States. They actually thought they could do it. So it’s not like this is the first time anyone has pushed for global eradication. But the WHO had to keep scaling back the program, and could never repeat the success overseas, and finally had to be satisfied with barely keeping the malaria epidemic under control.

    It’s a tough problem, between lack of funding, lack of government stability in African nations, and increasing mosquito resistance. But it’s one that needs constant work, not only to save the lives and health of people in Africa and Asia, but to prevent a return to an epidemic here.

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