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How Doctors Without Borders Is Fighting Malaria and Ebola at the Same Time

TIME Health
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Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is launching its second mass distribution of treatments for malaria in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone, a move that may have the positive side effect of helping ease the burden of Ebola cases.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease common in the region and causes many of the same symptoms as Ebola. It's common for people to come to Ebola treatment centers believing they have Ebola, when in fact they have malaria—which crowds the clinics and causes enormous stress for patients and their families. Treating malaria and preventing infection are ways MSF can ensure that they reduce the number of patients at Ebola treatment centers in addition to saving lives, since more people fall ill and die from malaria than Ebola.

"If MSF can provide added support to reduce the burden of malaria on the health care system, this will not only save many lives but also allow for a more focused and effective Ebola response," said Jonathan Caplan, MSF coordinator for the distribution, in a statement.

This is the second time MSF has conducted a widespread delivery of malaria treatments. In December, the group distributed 1.5 million antimalarial drugs to the region.

In addition, trials and investment for Ebola vaccines and drugs continue to grow. On Friday Johnson & Johnson announced that groups working on the company's experimental Ebola vaccine would receive $115 million from Europe's Innovative Medicines Initiative. The hope is the new investment will speed the develop of vaccines for the disease.

The latest data show cases of Ebola have reached 21,373, with 10,186 in Sierra Leone alone.

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