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World’s Poorest Children Twice As Likely To Contract Malaria As Least Poor Children

“The poorest children in the world’s most impoverished communities are twice as likely to contract malaria as the least poor, according to a new study published in the Lancet medical journal Wednesday,” VOA News reports. “Researchers say the study, led by Britain’s Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, suggests that alleviating poverty could protect children from malaria,” the news agency continues (Hennessy, 6/19). The researchers conducted “a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess whether the risk of malaria in children aged 0-15 years is associated with socioeconomic status,” according to the study abstract (Tusting et al., 6/19). The researchers concluded, “That malaria control remains largely the preoccupation of the health sector alone is a failing of both those who work in health and those who work in international development. The disease severely compromises socioeconomic development, and its control and elimination would improve economic prosperity worldwide,” Medical News Today notes (Fitzgerald, 6/20).

In an accompanying Lancet opinion piece, Jürg Utzinger of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and Marcel Tanner of the University of Basal write, “We agree with the conclusions of Tusting and colleagues and are convinced that investments that support socioeconomic development in malarious settings will prove an effective and sustainable intervention against not only malaria, but also a host of other poverty-related diseases, including the neglected tropical diseases. Such action requires innovative multi-disease, multi-intervention, cross-sectoral collaboration, coupled with further longitudinal intervention studies” (6/19).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.