Just the essentials

The World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines List has been around for decades and provides the rest of the world’s health organizations a basis for creating their own cost-effective formularies. Well what use is a list of essential medicines if we don’t know who to treat with them? To that end, the WHO has released the Essential Diagnostics List. It’s designed to diagnose the world’s most common diseases, as well as “priority diseases,” like HIV and malaria. The list currently includes 113 tests, but expect that to grow in the next few years as the WHO gets more feedback. Speaking of essential lists, here’s 33 Essential Life Hacks. Disclaimer: Buzzfeed and the WHO probably have a wildly diverging understanding of what “essential” means.

You don’t have to be a close talker, but it might help

As a top nominee in the “weird, but cool” category, researchers found the breath of children who tested positive for malaria smells different than those who tested negative, suggesting it may be possible to identify malaria based on a “breathprint.” Weird. Good news for you close talkers if the victim of your close talking can tell the difference, otherwise it’s just annoying as hell. Kidding aside, this is really good news because the gold standard test, blood-smear microscopy, is difficult to implement in resource-poor settings. BTW, according to the WHO, there were 214 million malaria cases worldwide in 2015 and ~90% of the ~500,000 malaria deaths occurred in Africa. The fight to end malaria has long been a focus of The Gate Foundation, and now we feel bad for cursing at Windows.

Something to really howl about

Those dang howler monkeys! One minute they’re cameoing in death metal bands, the next they’re spreading malaria in regions where we thought we had eradicated the disease decades ago. Two malaria outbreaks in Brazil over the past couple years tipped off scientists that something was going on, though they were initially thought to have been caused by the typical, human version of the parasite. When researchers at the Instituto Nacional de Infectologia Evandro Chagas in Rio de Janeiro investigated, they found some of the cases were in fact caused by a typically monkey-exclusive version which is actually… the best-case scenario?? Apparently, if those outbreaks weren’t caused by the monkey-version, then there’s a bunch of human malaria in those monkeys which would be even scarier. Yikes.

Red, White, and Blue > mosquitos

In the spirit of American Independence Day, blood-sucking, malaria-spreading mosquito jerks have met their match. Africa alone holds 90% of the world’s malaria deaths, but thanks to W (the President, not the Hotel) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (P.M.I.) we’re starting to see striking results in the fight against malaria. So much so that researchers have determined that, in the countries helped by this initiative, about 1.7 million baby and toddler deaths have been prevented. And guess what? The $500M a year that is spent on this all comes from the good ole US of A. That’s right. American donations have helped save nearly two million children from malaria through P.M.I. Suck on that mosquitos. America isn’t all baseball, burgers, and freedom. It’s a malaria-crushing, baby-saving, philanthropic nation, too.

3. Vaccine to multiple strains of malaria: “Fight me, bro”

A promising vaccine under development by Sanaria has some malaria strains running scared. The PfSPZ vaccine was shown to not only protect 64% of subjects from contracting the strain of malaria the treatment was developed from, the vaccine also protected 5 of the 6 subjects treated and exposed to a different strain. Sorry subject #6! Oh, and it does all this while affording eight months of protection at >90% efficacy, which no malaria vaccine to date has been able to do. It’s currently in Phase I, though it has been given fast track designation, so if it can survive the arduous clinical trials process it could be a very important tool in the fight to eradicate malaria.

3. Give ‘Paperfuges’ a whirl

What’s small, lightweight and portable all while being faster and less than a hundredth of the cost of the cheapest centrifuge we could find on Amazon? Meet the ‘Paperfuge.’ It’s 2 grams, can separate plasma from blood in 90 seconds, and costs a paltry 20 cents. All these specifications mean that diagnosing diseases like HIV and malaria in areas that don’t typically have access to clunky, electricity-dependent clinical equipment (see: malaria prevalent areas) is going to be so much easier. The design comes from a group of Stanford University researchers who performed a similar feat in 2012 by creating a paper microscope for 50 cents. Origami? More like ohmygoshi! (Our puns only get worse with every groan from readers.)

1. Mosquito mayhem no more

Mosquitoes are one of the few creatures in this world where we must ask “Was there a point to this?” While InsightCity can’t explain this insanely wrong turn in evolution, GSK, PATH, and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance are teaming up to combat the blood-sucking treachery. GSK and PATH recently committed to donate the first malaria vaccine candidate -RTS,S- towards a large-scale WHO pilot implementation program in sub-Saharan Africa, researching real-world impact of the game-changing medication. Gavi has announced a $27.5 million donation towards the operation. Sub-Saharan Africa is hit especially hard by the mosquito-transmitted illness resulting in thousands of deaths annually- especially in younger populations. If full funding can be secured by WHO, the program will begin in early 2018. Here are 33 mosquito facts. Because…why not?