This year, the Award of the Principe de Asturias de Cooperación Internacional has been obtained by four organisations that fight against malaria disease in the Sub-Saharan Africa. This opportunity gives me the chance to stress the extreme importance to treat disease-by-disease in poor countries. In my opinion, looking for a cure for specific diseases doesn’t have to be opposed to the reinforcement of the infrastructure of public services. The discovery of a vaccine for Malaria will have a great impact on developing countries, because malaria is the root of diseases that generate poverty. It’s difficult to assess the relationship between the illness and poverty. As I see it, there exists a circle between malaria and poverty. The typical argument is that poor people become ill because they are poor, but also they are poor because they become ill several times.
If people infected by malaria have to grow crops, the final production will be less than the last year, they will suffer a reduction in food intake, they and their children will become ill more frequently due to the lack of defences for starvation. This means that, in order to break off the vicious cycle of illness and poverty, not only development needs to be promoted, but there has to improve people’s health. Fighting against malaria, which is the root of diseases that generate poverty, will greatly improve the wealth of a country.
Malaria is a key illness that explains poverty because it determines the development of societies and causes death and suffering. However, I think that national health systems also play a fundamental role in the development of a country. At the same time that scientists are investigating the most damaging diseases, countries must be responsible to ensure a high-quality and efficient public health systems. Public health systems should receive a more generous amount of public funds to update their infrastructures and provide better services in order to guarantee citizen’s welfare. While public health systems had to be financed with public funds, the money provided for the investigations on specific diseases could come from many collaborators, such as multinational pharmaceutical companies, foundations, public investments and academic institutions, as Pedro Alonso did when he was searching a vaccine for malaria.