by Graham Pierrepoint
Malaria continues to be a disease that affects and takes plenty of lives throughout the world – it is still prevalent in developing countries, for example – and while the deadly condition can be contracted through a variety of different channels and means, one of the most frequent means of contracting malaria is via mosquito bite. Mosquitoes are, of course, rife – and continue to be, especially in hot climates – and there continues to be considerable research into what the world needs to do to protect against the spread of the disease in future.
Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is one such figure looking at pioneering ways to help wipe malaria off the planet for good, having recently advised business leaders at a Malaria summit in London this past week. At the summit, which was also attended by Prince Charles, Gates proposed that investment in satellite technology – to help us track mosquitoes on a global basis – may be necessary if we are to stand any chance of understanding how to get ahead of the disease and to beat its spread for good. Gates proposes that drone technology should be used to allow for intervention packages to be deployed to the right areas – and so that specific strains can be headed off as soon as possible.
Watch: ▶ Bill Gates Sees Promise With Tech's Role in Healthcare
“Malaria is a patchy disease – we need to understand the patches,” Gates advised. “This requires data down to the district level, or even lower. Advances in satellite imaging and machine learning will make it much easier to build surveillance systems that operate at this kind of resolution.” Gates’ proposals come as the landmark meeting saw several prominent figureheads discuss ways in which we may be able to halve the devastation expected of malaria in just a few years. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, set up by the Microsoft CEO, has already pledged around $2 billion in grant money towards research into malaria eradication – and it’s been confirmed that the Foundation will seek to supply a further billion to help find a cure.
Watch: ▶ How The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Is Fighting Malaria
“Electronic reporting through handheld devices can turn our current surveillance system, with its months of lag time, into a real-time system that is also geolocated,” Gates proposed – it is certainly an inspiring thought – and with his Foundation’s financial support behind such research into cures, we could well be seeing a reduction in malaria mortality in the years to come.