Dr. Salim Abdulla is a distinguished clinical epidemiologist whose remarkable career has significantly impacted the global fight against malaria and emerging pathogens. With over 20 years of experience in conducting clinical trials and groundbreaking research, he has played a pivotal role in shaping national malaria policies and leading innovations in healthcare.
Throughout his career, Dr. Abdulla has focused on evaluating and introducing critical interventions in the fight against malaria. He conducted extensive research on insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs) and artemisinin-based combination therapies, leading to important advancements in national malaria policy formulation. Notably, he is currently engaged in the evaluation of new malaria vaccines and treatments, with the goal of achieving regulatory licensure.
According to the 2022 World Malaria Report, despite disruptions to prevention, diagnostic and treatment services during the pandemic, countries around the world have largely held the line against further setbacks to malaria control.
Progress towards malaria elimination is increasing; in 2021, there were 84 malaria endemic countries compared with 108 in 2000.
In the 2022 World Malaria Report, compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO), the total spend on funding the fight of malaria in 2021 was estimated at USD 3.5 billion. Over that year, the same report states that there were an estimated 247 million cases of malaria and 619,000 malaria deaths globally.
More recently, over the course of the 20th Century, malaria is believed to have claimed between 150–300 million lives. The disease is contracted predominantly in the tropical regions: sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Amazon basin. This is due to the prevalence of the Anopheles mosquito that transmits the disease. Poorer regions of Africa bear the vast majority of the burden. In 2021, around 95% of the diagnosed cases and deaths were on the African continent, 80% of which were children under the age of five. The disease is entirely preventable and curable with prompt diagnosis and effective methods of treatment which require sufficient investment and funding.
Forests cover about 30% of the planet, but deforestation is clearing these essential habitats on a massive scale. What is deforestation? Find out the causes, effects, and solutions to deforestation.
In the last couple of decades, the lush rainforest around the remote village of Meliandou in the heart of Guinea has become patchier. Animals, like bats, saw their habitats dwindle and in a quest for survival, they sought refuge in closer proximity to human environments, making the boundaries between species thinner. A hollowed-out tree in the middle of the village became home to a colony of bats.
About 50 meters from the same tree, in the heart of Meliandou, a two-year-old boy named Emile lived with his family. In a matter of days, Emile fell ill with an unknown virus, developed a high fever, and died. Soon the same virus, that scientists now believe Emile got from the bats, took the lives of his sister, mother, and grandmother. The village, surrounded by a ring of forest, unexpectedly became the epicenter of a devastating outbreak that would leave an indelible mark.
Dr. Raman Velayudhan is a seasoned expert in the public health field and a relentless advocate for combating the global threat of mosquito-borne diseases.
Currently at the helm of the Veterinary Public Health, Vector Control, and Environment unit within the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Velayudhan’s impact is far-reaching.
One look at Aedes aegypti gives an immediate impression of its menacing nature. The telltale dark and white bands on the mosquito’s legs and other body parts bring a sense of foreboding and hardship. Sleek, silent, and stealthy, Ae. aegypti is the primary vector for several important, debilitating, and sometimes fatal human diseases including dengue, Zika virus, yellow fever, and chikungunya. The species is cause for mounting concern on many levels, as its biology, behavior, and ability to adapt have made Aedes aegypti one of the most pervasive and daunting public health challenges in the modern world.
The first mosquito ever associated with the spread of disease, Ae. aegypti is also the most studied of all mosquito species.1 From its humble beginnings in the African wild to a footprint that spans the globe, this durable and opportunistic insect has become a formidable opponent of vector control efforts worldwide.
The burden of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) is one of public health’s most pressing challenges. VBDs are caused by pathogens such as arboviruses (arthropod-borne virus), bacteria, and parasites that are transmitted to humans and animals through the bites of infected arthropods including mosquitoes, ticks, sandflies, and fleas, among others. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , “vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than 700,000 deaths annually worldwide”.
Beyond these broad statistics, attempts to quantify the global burden of VBDs is extremely challenging – for a number of reasons. At the highest level, even “burden” has an underlying complexity in public health terms: burden may refer to the number of cases of a given disease as well as the number of deaths.
Burden can also represent Disability-adjusted Life Years (DALYs), a measure that accounts for the long-term effects of disability among the afflicted, as well as the economic impact of disease from regions and countries all the way down to households and individuals. These economic impacts can be further scrutinized as reduced productivity among the populace, increased healthcare costs, and negative impacts on tourism; all of which can directly affect the GDP and economic growth of local and regional economies. And that’s just the beginning.
Each year on April 22nd, people and nations around the world celebrate Earth Day to raise awareness and promote action toward environmental protection and sustainability. Activities typically include community clean-ups and educational campaigns designed to promote sustainability in daily life.
The origins of Earth Day date back to the 1960s and a decade of growing enviro-consciousness brought about by the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and a series of environmental disasters that climaxed with a devastating oil spill off the coast of California in 1969. Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, organized the first Earth Day in 1970, when an estimated 20 million Americans took part in organized activities ranging from tree plantings to beach cleanups and teach-ins on college campuses.
Since those humble beginnings, Earth Day has become a global event – but amidst the tree plantings and landscape revitalization lies a subtle and yet direct connection between Earth Day and Public Health. Just as we depend on the natural environment for our survival, civilization creates and shapes a social and economic environment that greatly influences the health and well-being of our species.