Can we hope to eliminate malaria as a public health problem? ‘Elimination’, in this context, would mean the interruption of disease transmission, creating zero incidence of locally contracted cases. Or is it more realistic to think in terms of improved control and reductions in case numbers?
The issue is hotly debated. A short Lancet Editorial reports the recent comments of Nick White at the UK Academy of Medical Sciences’ annual international health lecture. He believes that there is now an opportunity to eliminate malaria in many parts of the world. He made reference to the Malaria Elimination Group’s efforts to identify countries where national or subnational elimination strategies could deliver zero transmission.
But at the same meeting another leading malaria specialist, Kevin Marsh said that focusing on elimination could be harmful by causing false hopes.