The control and eradication of malaria demands a multifaceted approach. No one tool alone can defeat the parasite. An arsenal of tools tailored to the needs on the ground is required. At present we have a range of good tools, including insecticide spraying and long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets help to prevent the transmission of the infection via the mosquito vector. But no preventative strategy is 100% effective – there will always be cases that slip through the net. The current WHO-recommended first-line treatment for the majority of malaria cases is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). These medicines, in addition to diagnostics, are available to treat and in some cases prevent malaria. Nevertheless, gaps in our armory remain. In the context of reported emergence of artemisinin resistance and the need to treat a range of patients, new medicines are needed.
Long-term prophylaxis via vaccination is challenging. The most advanced malaria vaccine candidate is currently in clinical trials and will hopefully be available in the coming years.
The four essential tools needed to defeat malaria: