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Malaria is massive. Our World in Data writes: “Over half a million people died from the disease each year in the 2010s. Most were children, and the disease is one of the leading causes of child mortality.” Or, as Rob Mather, CEO of the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) phrases it: the equivalent of seven jumbo jets full of children die of Malaria each day.

But I don’t see malaria in the news that much. This is partly because it was eradicated from Western countries over the course of the 20th century, both because of intentional interventions such as insecticide, and because of the draining of swamp lands and building of better housing. But it’s also because malaria is a slow catastrophe, like poverty, and climate change. We’ve dealt with it to varying degrees throughout history, and though it is an emergency to anyone affected by it, to the rest of us, it's a tropical disease which has been around forever. It can be hard to generate urgency when a problem has existed for so long.

But there is a lot that we can do. Highly effective charities work on malaria; the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) distributes insecticide treated bed-nets, and a Malaria Consortium program offers seasonal malaria chemoprevention treatment- both are GiveWell Top Charities. Two malaria vaccines, RTS,S and the cheaper R21[1], have been developed in recent years[2]. Malaria is preventable.

Though malaria control and eradication is funded by international bodies such as The Global Fund, there isn't nearly enough money being spent on it. AMF has an immediate funding gap of $185.78m. That's money for nets they know are needed. And though vaccines are being rolled out, progress has been slower than it could be, and the agencies distributing them have been criticised for lacking urgency.

Malaria is important, malaria is neglected, malaria is tractable.

If you want to do something about malaria today, consider donating to Givewell’s recommendations: AMF, or the Malaria Consortium:

Donate via GiveWell
  1. ^

     R21 offers up to 75% reduction of symptomatic malaria cases when delivered at the right schedule.

  2. ^

     Supported by Open Philanthropy and GiveWell.




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These questions came up as I read for this post, and I'd love to hear answers from more knowledgeable people: 

I am not that knowledgable myself. But about the vaccines, my understanding is that they are not that effective and that distributing them is very expensive. The vaccines require a cold chain, multiple doses spread well apart, and the vaccine is delivered as an injection. These are all major obstacles to cost-effective distribution in a developing country setting, so while some might say that "progress is slower than it should be", personally I have pretty low expectations.

Thanks! For a point of hope, R21 (the newer vaccine) apparently has "less strict" cold-chain requirements. 

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