. Malaria Background Information. The Internet Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2004 Volume 4 Number 2.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a serious and often fatal disease caused by the malarial parasite. There are four species of malarial parasite:
The malaria disease cycle is dependent on transmission between people by mosquitoes (see
The parasites travel from the liver to the bloodstream, enter the red blood cells and continue to reproduce. The red blood cells eventually rupture, releasing more parasites into the bloodstream to infect other red blood cells. This repeating cycle depletes the body of oxygen and coincides with the onset of fever and chills. It is both the direct action of the parasite and the body's response to the parasitic infection that lead to the symptoms of malaria1.
Epidemiology of Malaria
Symptoms of malaria may include fever, shivering, headache, repeated vomiting, diarrhoea, generalised convulsions, pain in the joints and backache1.
Approximately 40 percent of the world's population – mostly those living in the poorest countries – are at risk for malaria1. High malaria risk areas include large portions of Central and South America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and the Middle East3.
Worldwide, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that there are 300 million malaria cases annually, directly causing over one million deaths1. Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds, while many children who survive an episode of severe malaria suffer from learning impairments or brain damage1.
Malaria in Africa
More than 90 percent of malaria cases and the great majority of deaths occur in tropical Africa where
Economists estimate that acute and chronic malarial infection substantially reduces the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in countries with high malaria transmission rates compared to countries with lower malaria infection rates5.
GSK's Commitment in the Fight against Malaria
GSK has a dedicated group based in the UK, US and Spain which has been created within GSK's pharmaceutical R&D organisation to ensure a focus on diseases of the developing world. Projects are prioritised primarily on their socio-economic and public health benefits rather than their commercial returns. Some of these projects are carried out in collaboration with, and funding from, the WHO and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).
Since 1999, GSK has also been part of a public-private partnerships including the WHO/TDR (Tropical Disease Research Programme of the World Health Organization), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the University of Liverpool, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and African researchers, with initial support by an early grant from the Wellcome Trust, to develop effective, affordable antimalarials for sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership has successfully developed LAPDAP™ (chlorproguanil/dapsone), a synergistic combination which is a valuable addition to the armamentarium of antimalarial drugs used in sub-Saharan Africa.