Malaria in Pacific Populations: Seen But Not Heard?

Journal of Population Research, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2009

46 Pages Posted: 7 May 2009 Last revised: 1 Jun 2011

See all articles by Brian Opeskin

Brian Opeskin

University of Technology Sydney

Date Written: May 7, 2009


Most Pacific Island countries are located in the tropics, where there is an abundance of mosquitoes with the potential to carry debilitating or life-threatening vector-borne diseases. This article examines three Melanesian countries in which malaria is endemic - Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu - but the threat posed by the spread of malaria gives the issues a broader significance to the Pacific region. After discussing the spatial distribution and prevalence of malaria in the Pacific, the article examines a range of health interventions through which people have sought to control malaria. Although the disease was nearly eradicated in the Pacific in the 1970s, it is no longer in retreat. The article concludes by examining why there are still grounds for cautious optimism, and the challenges that Pacific Island countries face in reducing the impact of malaria on their populations. There is a need for prompt and concerted action on malaria at the national, regional and international levels if the public health concerns arising from the disease are to be adequately addressed.

Keywords: Malaria, mosquitoes, Pacific, Melanesia, spatial distribution, disease burden, traditional societies, health interventions, cross-border movement, drug resistance, climate change

JEL Classification: I18

Suggested Citation

Opeskin, Brian, Malaria in Pacific Populations: Seen But Not Heard? (May 7, 2009). Journal of Population Research, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2009, Available at SSRN:

Brian Opeskin (Contact Author)

University of Technology Sydney ( email )

Faculty of Law
University of Technology Sydney
Sydney, New South Wales 2007
+61-2-95149670 (Phone)


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