SPECIAL REPORTS

Taking on Malaria

Helping Hands Across World Soften the Blow of this Deadly Disease

(Reprinted from 2009 - please see our Global Action page for how you can link with us and Compassion International in getting Africans in need nets they need)

One African child lays down his head to rest, protected only by his mother in the same row of blankets spread across the thin mattress. His mother knows there is nothing more she can do to keep them safe from disease, so she prays for protection and pulls the sheets up to their necks. Infection is inevitable, death is possible, but both are preventable.

Every 30 seconds, somewhere in the world a child dies from malaria - a disease and potentially fatal infection of the blood that is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. This is an all too common reality for children and families in Africa, and other developing countries worldwide.

Each year, up to 500 million people are infected with the disease worldwide, while about 90 percent of deaths due to malaria occur in Africa. UNICEF statistics show that nearly 1 million people will die this year from the mosquito-borne illness.

In a global effort to provide effective control of malaria and education about the disease around the world, organizations unified globally on 25 April for World Malaria Day, which also served as a countdown to meet the international goal of delivering effective and affordable protection and treatment to all people at risk of malaria by 2010.

According to the Christian Children’s Fund (CCF), education is the foundation for prevention. The CCF worked through a community-based approach this year to ensure the main focus was prevention and treatment in affected communities. They aimed to educate communities on the use of protective bed nets, symptoms of malaria, treatment options, and the benefits of residual spraying.

There are several organizations around the globe that constantly accept donations or provide bed nets in the effort to protect communities from malaria. Some of those organizations are CCF, Compassion’s Bite Back, World Vision, etc. These organizations, such as World Vision, a Christian humanitarian charity organization, are on a mission to ‘blanket’ entire communities with the protective nets and slow the spread of malaria to children and adults alike.

Individuals with a heart for helping this epidemic have also stepped up to fight the cause. Jordan Foxworthy, the 17-year-old daughter of famous comedian Jeff Foxworthy, has taken the initiative to start-up and lead the Christian aid Colorado-based Compassion International’s Bite Back campaign after she visited Kenya on a mission trip and saw first-hand the devastation caused by malaria, which kills more African children than HIV/AIDS. The Bite Back campaign challenges teens to donate $10 to purchase a mosquito net that could save the life of a child at risk for contracting malaria. To date, Foxworthy's efforts have raised nearly half a million dollars for the campaign.

UNICEF states that malaria is a major threat in low poverty, third world countries. Founded in 1952, Compassion successfully tackles global poverty one child at a time, serving more than 1 million children in 25 of the world's poorest countries. Recognizing that poverty is more than a lack of money, Compassion works holistically through local churches to address the individual physical, economic, educational and spiritual needs of children.

In addition, the Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP), developed by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership of UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank, is a comprehensive blueprint for global malaria control and elimination. It outlines strategies, costs, goals and timelines designed to build on the trajectory of recent successes in malaria control, moving towards full malaria control and beyond in countries across the globe.

Non-governmental organizations are not the only combaters in line. Under President George W. Bush’s administration in 2005, The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) was created to fight the threat of malaria worldwide. PMI pledged to increase funding of malaria prevention and treatment by more than $1.2 billion over five years.

The Global Fund is another organization pulling its weight for the cause. During the last few years, the Global Fund has supplied over 74 million effective malaria drug treatments for free. In addition, more than 70 million bed nets have been distributed. Drugs to protect and treat against malaria, as well as test kits and bed nets are valuable tools to fight disease, and getting them into the right hands is a vital part of Global Fund’s commitment to strengthening health care.

Hope remains for that child in Africa and his mother who are lying down to sleep still unprotected. Organizations across the globe are coming together to reach all communities at risk. Over next few years, no matter the organization, the goal is the same: to save lives. People are working hard to rapidly deliver malaria interventions, such as protective nets, diagnostic tests, anti-malarial drugs and indoors spraying to all people at risk of the disease, and to pave the way towards virtually ending all deaths by 2015.

Sources: UNICEF - http://www.unicef.org/health/index_malaria.html Everyday Christian - http://www.everydaychristian.com/news/story/1787 Christian Children’s Fund - http://www.christianchildrensfund.org/ Compassion, Bite Back - http://biteback.net/ The Global Fund - http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/ President’s Malaria Initiative - http://www.fightingmalaria.gov/index.html World Vision - http://www.worldvision.org/