Image: Mass.Gov Blog

Image: Mass.Gov Blog

Malaria death rate has dropped by 57 per cent in the past 15 years going by a study published on Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, showed that by 2015, the number of malaria deaths had dropped to 631,000.

Speaking on the positive development  in a blog post, the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, said: “cutting the death rate by more than half is a miracle.”

He went on to describe the feat as “one of the greatest success stories in the history of global health.”

Bill Gates added that “with almost 500,000 children still dying of malaria every year, we obviously have a long way to go.”

Malaria is responsible for more than half of mosquito-related deaths, predominantly in sub-Sahara Africa, and 3.2 billion people still live in areas that put them at risk for contracting malaria.

Right now, the mosquito-borne disease is largely prevented using insecticides that are sprayed and used in netting, as well as antimalarial medications.

Though, there currently exists no malaria vaccines, Bill Gates noted in his blog post that one is in the works.

One tool Bill Gates is looking at is wiping out mosquitoes – in this case the Anopheles gambiae, by gene-editing technology.

Essentially, the goal is to introduce gene edits that leads females to produce sterile males who then can’t go on to produce more offspring.

On this technology that has the potential to permanently alter the gene of mosquitoes worldwide, Bill Gates, said it “is something that should be done only with incredible caution and care.”

He said he is “excited about the potential of this technology”.

Author: Yemi Olarinre