In her eradicating malaria keynote, Sonia Shah discusses why the disease still exists when the cure has been known since the 1600s. The investigative journalist and author lists three reasons, which combine to create a fourth, more pressing reason.
Scientifically, the malaria parasite is extremely adaptable as it spends half its life in a mosquito and the other half in a human. These are both very hostile environments. The disease is constantly shifting and changing between life stages as well.
Poverty is also a known cause of malaria, and it is cyclical. Without access to proper healthcare, malaria becomes a bigger issue and malaria also has a way of draining people of their income as treatments can be expensive.
A cultural problem exists where those who live in areas most affected by the disease are also the people who care the least about it. To them malaria is as prevalent as the common cold.
These three combine to form a political issue where leaders are inactive. Shah's eradicating malaria keynote posits cultural imperialism is also a factor.