Malaria has been impacting human survival for 10,000 years. Throughout history the most critical factors in the spread or eradication of disease have been human behavior (shifting population centers, changing farming methods and the like) and living standards. By the twentieth century, scientists had discovered that malaria is transmitted by specific mosquito species. This was followed by decades of testing to determine ways to prevent and control malaria.
During the first half of the twentieth century, the most important contributions were the development of malaria epidemiology, including the study of the genesis of epidemics and their possible forecasting and prevention. The discovery of the potential of the insecticide DDT for vector control, was the main determinant for proposing the global malaria eradication campaign of the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, when the lofty goal for eradication was not achieved, programs slowed down and were inconsistent, and the incidence of malaria rose again.
In 1998, the World Health Organization launched the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, which was designed to rally forces commensurate with the magnitude of the problem, while aiming at realistic objectives. During the first decade of the twenty-first century, control efforts included mass use of preventative methods in malaria endemic countries including insecticide treated bed nets and indoor residual spraying. This has led to great progress. Malaria-related deaths have decreased by over 25% since 2000 worldwide and by 33% in Africa2,3.