Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease carried mainly by mosquitoes, in tropical and subtropical regions, including parts of the Americas, Asia, and Africa. According to Wikipedia, each year there are approximately 350–500 million cases of malaria worldwide, killing between one and three million people, most of them young children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Had 3 million persons, mainly children, died in the West from anything, there would be massive investment to combat it. But for Merck, Pfizer, Novartis and other Big Pharma firms, there is no margin in innovative cures for malaria. Meanwhile, the mosquitoes are gaining — the parasites they carry are developing resistance to the current leading anti-malaria drugs.   

Now, a $3 b. program to combat malaria has been announced, led by 59-year-old Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. The program is beautifully ultra-simple. Provide 250 m. mosquito nets (treated with insecticide) for Africans. Organize logistics to bring them (and related educational efforts) to the remotest of African villages.

Kikwete is one of Africa’s lesser known but more effective leaders, mainly because he is not involved in scandals or notoriety. In general Tanzania has had enlightened leaders, dating from its first President, Julius Nyerere. 

Let us wish Kikwete and his program success. Let us also ask: In our innovation efforts, why do we value some lives far less than others? Is not a life, a life?

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