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Controlling malaria disease is a top health priority. However, there is considerable debate over the merits of high versus low-tech methods.

In this letter to Science, biologist Stephen M. Smith of the University of Waterloo, Canada, argues that although the spotlight is on high-tech approaches such as mosquito irradiation, genetic modification and vaccine development, these may take decades to be effective. Meanwhile, insecticide-impregnated bed nets and other low-tech methods fail to attract funding.

But Jane Hemingway and Alister Craig of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine say that a concentration on insecticide-based control could increase resistance, and has already proven unpopular. And progress towards high-tech solutions such as transgenic mosquitoes has been rapid, they say. They argue that funding should cover a broad range of treatments and that high- and low-tech approaches should complement — not compete with — each other.

Link to full letter in Science

Reference: Science, 304, 1744 (2004)

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