The world if… malaria drugs stop working

It is the world’s most deadly animal and yet we risk becoming blasé about the threat the humble mosquito, and the malaria it carries, poses to human life. So warns a new film with Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which imagines what a malaria-resurgent future could look like

It is the world’s most deadly animal and yet we risk becoming blasé about the threat the humble An estimated 584,000 people died from malaria in 2013 and 3.2 billion people are at risk of the disease, according to the UN. The parasite is merciless to young victims: some 80 per cent of malaria deaths are in children under the age of five and in Africa a child dies every minute from the curable disease.

Antimalarial medicines and better prevention methods have brought down global malaria mortality rates by 47 per cent since 2000, says the UN’s World Health Organisation. But the effectiveness of the old drugs may be fading. As the film suggests in a fictional 2023, failure to develop alternative weapons against the disease could let a new strain break out – resistant to all existing treatments. It’s time for the world to pay attention to the little creature’s big threat.