According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 228 million cases of malaria across the globe in 2018. Many of these were in African nations; in fact, the African region held 93% of cases and 94% of deaths. But some countries, like Mozambique, are working to reduce this burden. Medical XPress notes that through the Magude Project, a thorough interventional project, Mozambique reduced malaria cases by 85%. The full findings from the project are published in PLOS Medicine.
Resulting from microscopic parasites transmitted from mosquito bites, malaria is a severe and rare illness that can be fatal without treatment. The United States sees only 1,700 cases of malaria yearly. Symptoms may be constant, or occur in “attacks.” These include:
- High fevers
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chills and sweating
- Chest, abdominal, and muscle pain
- Intense fatigue
If left untreated, malaria can cause anemia, low blood sugar, respiratory distress, organ failure, and cerebral malaria. The latter results in coma, seizures, changes in personality and behavior, and even death. Learn more about malaria.
The Magude Project was developed by MALTEM, La Caixa, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations, the Ministry of Health of Mozambique, the Manhiça Health Research Center (CISM), and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). WHO has always looked for new ways to completely eradicate malaria. But they require an understanding of tools, strategies, and opportunities to do so.
In Mozambique, particularly in the south, malaria transmission is common. This region typically has moderate to severe disease transmission. Thus, researchers needed to understand how to leverage currently existing tools to address this issue.
Altogether, the Magude Project took 5 years to complete. It took place in rural Magude. Altogether, the population sits at around 48,448 citizens. To start, researchers hoped to reduce malaria cases by 100%. Next, they sought to sustain this for an extended period of time. Within Phase 1, which lasted for 2 years, all citizens received two doses of antimalarials. Additionally, researchers surveilled, detected, and treated cases quickly. In Phase 2, which lasted for 3 years, antimalarials were given more specifically to households where cases were detected.
Ultimately, at the beginning of the project, around 9.1% of the population (4,409 patients) had this illness. By the end, only 1.4% (678 patients) did. In addition to reducing cases by nearly 85%, the Magude Project also shows long-term benefit in the continued reduction of malaria cases. Says Regina Rabinovich of ISGlobal, there is still one question to address moving forward:
“Why, despite this drastic reduction, are we failing to interrupt disease transmission, and what are the strategies required to achieve this goal?”