12.4.11

MISSION MAN

From Johns Hopkins Public Health Magazine (Special Malaria Edition: 2011)

 

Mission Man



Philip Thuma’s lifetime in rural Zambia makes him uniquely qualified to combat malaria. But can his wildly successful model work without the man himself?

 

The numbers are stark: what they represent, potentially incredible.

In a tiny corner of southern Zambia, more than a day’s walk from the nearest hint of a modern town, malaria has gone from a scourge to almost—but not quite—a memory. In fact, the figures coming out of this bush area known as Macha would be unbelievable if they hadn’t occurred elsewhere before. In the 1950s in Sri Lanka, and the 1990s in Zimbabwe, malaria was brought to its knees through massive government control programs. But the moment those efforts ceased, the disease rallied to pre-control heights and far beyond.

By contrast, Philip Thuma and his colleagues have taken malaria from the leading cause of infant mortality in Macha to a place where they've reduced its prevalence by 98 percent— and those numbers have held for nearly seven years.

Which begs the question: What's so special about Macha ... and can its success ever be defined, let alone duplicated?

(Read the Full Story at http://magazine.jhsph.edu/2011/malaria/features/mission_man/page_1

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