British doctor halts fatal malaria in 72 villages

A malaria prevention scheme pioneered by a British doctor in 72 villages has halted deaths from the disease in six years, a report revealed today.

The programme, devised by Dr Ruth Shakespeare, is run by the Mulanje Mission Hospital in partnership with a national malaria control programme.

Covering a population of 85,000 in southern Malawi, it is based on preventative measures including insecticide-treated nets and indoor spraying, with organisation kept at a local level. 

Dr Shakespeare said: “Too often, aid projects fail to reach local communities and money is wasted pursuing top-down, one-size-fits-all approaches to disease prevention. 

“What we have demonstrated at Mulanje Mission Hospital is that if you use proven technologies and apply them effectively at a local level, utilising the expertise and experience of people on the ground, you can have significant impact.” There were an estimated 219 million cases of the disease globally in 2017. That year some 435,000 people died — with children under five accounting for 61 per cent of fatalities. The scheme has been hailed in the UK as a “remarkable success story”. 

Stephen Twigg, chairman of the Commons International Development Committee, said: “I hope the Department for International Development will take a look at how they might support the rollout of this strategy elsewhere in the world.” In April, Malawi began immunising children in a pilot of the first vaccine against malaria.


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