Malaria Causes More Deaths Than Expected

February 20, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. estimate (v.) – to come up with an amount or size that is close or similar to the actual figure
Example: Some parents estimate their children’s college expenses so they can save enough money for it.

2. falsify (v.) – to prove that something is untrue
Example: The theory that the Earth is the center of the universe has already been falsified.

3. immune (adj.) – in medicine, not easily weakened by a disease; unable to catch a disease
Example: The patient survived because he is immune to the deadly virus.

4. scale up (v. phrase) – to increase in force or intensity
Example: The crime rate dropped as a result of the scaling up of the number of police guarding the streets.

5. intervention (n.) – the act of taking part in something to change an action
Example: The teacher’s intervention stopped the children from fighting.

Read the text below.

A new study reveals that the number of malaria deaths worldwide may be double than the figure reported in past researches.

The study, published in a British medical journal called The Lancet, reports that 1.24 million people worldwide died in 2010 because of the mosquito-borne disease. The number is twice that of the 655,000 deaths estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the same year.

According to The Lancet editor Richard Horton, the study used new research methods and more data sources to estimate the number of malaria deaths.  Researchers’ computer-generated calculations included factors such as how fast the disease spreads in an area, people’s access to health care, drug resistance, and availability of bed nets.

Additionally, this new research may falsify what is taught in medical schools—that children who survived malaria become immune to it once they grow up. Dr. Christopher Murray, who led the study, says hospital records show many older children and adults still die from malaria. The new study shows a total of 433,000 more older children and adult deaths than WHO’s estimate.

Based on the historical database built for the study, worldwide deaths from malaria rose from 995,000 in 1980, to 1.82 million in 2004. But in 2010, the number fell to 1.24 million. Researchers believe that if the number continues to decrease each year, there may be less than 100,000 malaria deaths by 2020.

Horton says that thanks to the scaling up of international efforts to control the disease, over 230 million people worldwide have already been treated of malaria in the past decade. The same number of bed nets has also been distributed to malaria-prone regions. By continuing the existing interventions, countries may eventually and finally get rid of malaria, he adds.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A 

      Do you think it is necessary to know about the number of deaths caused by a certain disease such as malaria? Why or why not?
      Do you believe that malaria can be totally eliminated in the future? Why or why not?

Discussion B

      Do you think research organizations can still be trusted even if they report very different data from one another?
      What factors would make the results of a study believable to you?


February 20, 2012