Reuters Examines China’s Involvement In Fighting Malaria In Africa

Chinese scientists have been working on enhancing “the rare sweet wormwood shrub, from which artemisinin – the best drug to fight malaria – is derived” in an effort to fight malaria “not on its own soil, where the deadly disease has been sharply pruned back, but in Africa, where it still kills one child every 30 seconds,” Reuters reports. According to the news service, “China pledged to help Africa fight malaria at the triennial Forum on China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2006 and has since set up 30 anti-malaria and prevention units. The next FOCAC meeting is in Egypt on Nov. 8-9.”

Joseph Cheng, a professor at City University in Hong Kong, said China’s influence could be expanded by its efforts to eradicate malaria in developing countries. “China is exploring cost effective ways to help the Third World and is interested in making distinct contributions,” he said. 

“Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria have begun farming hybrids of the sweet wormwood shrub with Chinese and Vietnamese ancestry, said Li Guoqiao at the Tropical Medicine Institute. … Asked if China would export the high-yielding Artemisia annua to Africa, Li said: ‘We want to grow them in China and whatever we export depends on bilateral relationships,'” Reuters writes. 

The article includes information about China’s “mass drug administration” exercise on the “island of Moheli, which belongs to the Comoros group of islands at the northern mouth of the Mozambique Channel.” Reuters writes, “The results were startling. While the parasite carrier rate in Moheli ranged from 5 to 94 percent from village to village before the exercise, that fell to 1 percent or less from January 2008 and has stayed around that figure since” (Lyn, 11/5). 

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