Claire Panosian Dunavan,
MD, FIDSA, DTM&H (London)
UCLA School of Medicine
Division of Infectious Diseases
10833 Le Conte Ave, CHS 37-121
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1688

Division office: 310-825-7225
Voicemail: 310-794-6053
Facsimile: 310-825-3632

Tackling Malaria

Scientific America, December 2005

Long ago in the Gambia, West Africa, a two-year-old boy named Ebrahim almost died of malaria. Decades later Dr. Ebrahim Samba is still reminded of the fact when he looks in a mirror. That is because his mother—who had already buried several children by the time he got sick—scored his face in a last-ditch effort to save his life. The boy not only survived but eventually became one of the most well-known leaders in Africa: Regional Director of the World Health Organization.

Needless to say, scarification is not what rescued Ebrahim Samba. The question is, What did? Was it the particular strain of parasite in his blood that day, his individual genetic or immunological makeup, his nutritional state? After centuries of fighting malaria— and conquering it in much of the world—it is amazing what we still do not know about the ancient scourge, including what determines life and death in severely ill children in its clutches. Despite such lingering questions, however, today we stand on the threshold of hope. Investigators are studying malaria survivors and tracking many other leads in efforts to develop vaccines. Most important, proven weapons—principally, insecticide-treated bed nets, other antimosquito strategies, and new combination drugs featuring an ancient Chinese herb—are moving to the front lines.

In the coming years the world will need all the malaria weapons it can muster. After all, malaria not only kills, it holds back human and economic development. Tackling it is now an international imperative.

View Full Article

Related posts:

Travel Health Is More Than Vaccines

Claire Panosian Dunavan, MD, DTM&H (London), 2008 President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, received her education at Stanford University, Northwestern Medical School, Tufts-New England Medical Center, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. First as Chief of Infectious Diseases at LA County-Olive View Medical Center, then as Director of Travel and Tropical Medicine at UCLA, she has been a UCLA professor, clinician, and teacher since 1984. She has also worked overseas in Haiti, Taiwan, the Philippines, Pakistan, Vietnam, Albania, Armenia, and Tanzania, among other countries.

Dunavan’s second career as a print and broadcast journalist includes 6 years as a medical editor, reporter, and co-anchor for Lifetime Television. In 1997, her interview with a dying physician won an international “Freddie” Award. In 2000, with her husband Patrick Dunavan—an 8-time Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker —she produced a television program on hepatitis B which has reached 300 million international viewers. In recent years, she has written regularly for national newspapers and magazines. She currently writes a weekly column called “The Infection Files” which runs in California newspapers. Her journalism spans issues in infectious diseases and public health affecting everyone on the planet to global health policy and economics.

© 2010 Claire Panosian Dunavan