Vector-borne diseases are ancient foes: A recent Institut Pasteur study reports that malaria, for example, emerged in Africa at least 20,000 years ago – perhaps 15,000 years before the adoption of agriculture. Alongside dengue, African sleeping sickness and other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), malaria remains debilitating, and even deadly. Smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to malaria, especially in Africa and southeast Asia. The very conditions that are ideal to raise crops – a plot of land with damp, humid air, and warmth – also build an ideal environment for disease vectors, such as mosquitoes, to thrive.
With smallholders providing most of the food supply in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, we need to recognize the link between vector-borne diseases, smallholder health and sustainable agriculture. If these farmers suffer from malaria, for instance, they cannot tend to their crops, perpetuating the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty. Healthy farmers are more productive and make a better living. They are critical to feeding their communities sustainably and enabling healthier communities.
Eradicating malaria and supporting farmers’ health requires collective action today, backed by science and innovation – and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Our work in healthcare and agriculture is designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life; malaria is a challenge that bridges health and farming.
In our second issue of Public Health, we’re proud to present our commitment to “ZERO by 40”, an initiative to help eradicate malaria by 2040. Coordinated by the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) and partially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’re working with four other leading agriculture companies to identify and develop new vector control tools. This issue of Public Health will explore how to “ZERO by 40”, works and why the time to act is now.
This issue of Public Health also features other global health initiatives. One of these is known as the Kirikou project, in the Ivory Coast. This new program, with pilot efforts beginning in 2019, aims to find a sustainable model to deliver a malaria-free environment to farmers and enhance the production of high-quality cocoa. From Argentina, we learn about the "CHICO" study and scientists' work on a new formulation to treat children with Chagas disease. And because animal and human health are often intertwined, in our story “A Map for Public Health,” we consider zoonoses – diseases that may spread between animals and people. Specifically, we look at the role of dogs and cats in public health in Africa and the efforts to tackle challenges.
Thank you very much for your interest in learning more about how helping to protect communities from vector-borne diseases promotes public health around the world.
We wish you an informative read.
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