International Research Community Can Better Support Malaria Health Workers

Nature: Pay people to fight malaria
Editorial Board

“…[T]he best way to beat malaria is to ensure that every infected person can quickly reach a health worker and be given artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) … Yet health systems in many malaria-endemic nations are riddled with holes. … Malaria health workers are often unsalaried, so many leave for other jobs. Networks of researchers, technicians, and administrators support health workers, provide surveillance and inform policy. But health budgets in low-income nations are often too small to attract enough of these skilled workers. At present, too many of these crucial positions are unpaid. … The problem is complex, but there are a few ways in which the scientific community could help. Researchers can analyze the costs and value of health-system components and compare them with those of other projects, such as genetically modifying mosquitoes to wipe them out, or conducting vaccine studies. This would help donors and governments re-evaluate their priorities when funds are limited. … Public health officials attributed [Paraguay’s recent elimination of malaria] to its health system’s ability to quickly detect, treat, and track cases. Sometimes, the classic recipes are the best” (7/25).

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