Today, 18 September 2014, millions of people in Scotland are heading to the polls to vote whether the country should stay in the UK or become an independent nation. In her column ‘In the heat of the moment’ Jenni Lawton takes us on a historical journey of the Scottisch contribution to understanding tropical diseases such as malaria: from David Livingstone and Ronald Ross to recent achievements in 2014.
The Ebola situation in West Africa is horrible. Yet, for ages scientists have been warning that such devastating outbreaks are to be expected - more frequently and more seriously. The 1995 film 'Outbreak' with Dustin Hoffman has, sadly, become reality. The US sends 3000 troops to help contain the virus. Perhaps this is a good thing, but why does an international response only come when Ebola hits Africa? I wonder, what would happen if 3000 troops would be enrolled in an intensive larviciding campaign? They would, no doubt, give a devastating blow to malaria. As scientists we have been warning against invasive species like the Asian tiger mosquito, against arboviruses like West Nile Fever and Chikungunya, and numerous scientific papers have been written that raise a finger and say 'Watch out, it is coming'. Between 1999 and 2004, West Nile swept across the entire United States, and since early this year Chikungunya is the next virus to spread across the Americas. Did we warn that this would happen? Yes we did. But, did we warn in the right way? Are scientific articles enough to impress politicians to actually do something to prevent diseases from spreading across the globe. Maybe 'Yes', but it seems more like a 'No' for now.
Ebola is hot - the whole world knows about it by now. Malaria is chronic, and has been with us forever. How do we get the world to focus on malaria? What are your thoughts?
Enjoy this week's MalariaWorld - the MW team.