One Chinese Company’s Bold, Controversial Plan to Wipe Out Malaria in Kenya
Malaria is a global threat. In 2017, an estimated 20,000 people were killed in terrorist-related incidents. That same year, 435,000 people died from the mosquito-borne disease, predominantly in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
Although half the world’s population lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission, Africa is home to the overwhelming majority of malaria cases and 93% of all malaria deaths.
In addition to the pain and disruption, the illness causes families, treating malaria is also a huge financial burden for Africa’s already beleaguered health care systems. So, when a Chinese company comes along and says they think they can eradicate malaria entirely from a country, it’s not surprising why a lot of people are eager to listen.
After successfully wiping out malaria from much of the small African island of Comoros, the philanthropic-backed Chinese company New South is now targeting Kenya, a much larger, far more complex country for its next anti-malaria project.
The company aims to use a bold and somewhat controversial method perfected back in China as well as in Comoros that it thinks could also work in Kenya. The idea is to innoculate every single person in the country using a technique called Mass Drug Administration, or MDA. The idea is pretty simple: if everyone is immunized, then the disease has no way to spread.
Sounds straightforward, but in a country of 50 million people where distrust of the Chinese runs high in some areas, this will not be an easy undertaking.
A trio of independent journalists recently reported on New South’s anti-malaria plans in Kenya as part of a grant from journalismfund.eu that also featured an article published in the U.S. publication The Atlantic.
Those reporters, Anthony Langat from Kenya, Qian Sun from China and Jacob Kushner from the United States, join Eric & Cobus to discuss whether New South’s plans are actually feasible or just more wishful thinking in what seems like a never-ending battle to contain this deadly disease.
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