Some diseases get more headlines than others, for reasons having to do with news cycles, politics, and interest groups. One disease that ought to be getting much more press is malaria.
Malaria is typically spread by mosquitos, and is common in tropical and subtropical climates. Estimates on spread and mortality vary greatly, in part because poorer (and harder to track) populations tend to suffer disproportionately from the affliction. However, the World Health Organization’s 2011 World Malaria Report suggests that at least 655,000 people died from malaria in 2010, while a 2012 study in The Lancet suggests that the figure is actually closer to 1,238,000.
From a citizen science perspective, you can help combat malaria by helping researchers understand it. By downloading the BOINC client (explained in this post), you can contribute computer time to the Malaria Control project.
The project is designed to model the best ways to fight malaria, by analyzing databases of health system descriptions, intervention costing, and vector bionomics, and testing various approaches in simulations. The goal is to find the most effective way to fight the disease while reducing costs, and more importantly, reducing the risk of creating new, resistant strains of malaria.
To participate, simply download and install the BOINC client, and then set your configuration options in the software to dedicate time to the Malaria Control project. Your computer will do the rest.
The Malaria Control project is managed by the Swiss Tropical Institute, and is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.