World Malaria Day 2013
April 25th is World Malaria Day! World Malaria Day was established in 2007 at the 60th World Health Assembly. This event replaced what was then known as “Africa Malaria Day,” which had been commemorated each year since 2001 on April 25th. As stated on the official website: “The purpose of [World Malaria Day] is to raise awareness of malaria as a disease that is preventable and treatable and to mobilize communities across the world to get involved in the fight against it” [www.worldmalariaday.org/; www.rollbackmalaria.org/worldmalariaday/].
In 2008, the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership1, made public its Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP). GMAP’s stated long-term goal is to “put extra efforts into comprehensively tracking progress in malaria prevention and treatment along the path to near-zero deaths by 2015 and the gradual elimination of malaria” (emphasis added) [www.rbm.who.int/]. Since 2008 this goal has also been embraced by numerous non-profit organizations such as World Vision, Malaria No More, Nothing But Nets, and Imagine No Malaria.
In a recent article, Ray Chambers, the founder of Malaria No More and the UN Special Envoy for Malaria, asks his readers, “What will you do with the next 1,000 days of your life? Buy a car? Change jobs? Lose those 10 extra pounds? Save the lives of 4.4 million children?” The 1,000 days of which he is speaking is from April 6, 2013 to December 31, 2015, the deadline for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.
In case you are not familiar with these goals, they “represent the most important effort to improve lives in history,” with three of the goals “focused largely on children under five and pregnant mothers:” Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015; Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health; and Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and Other Diseases, and specifically to reduce “deaths from malaria to near zero.” Chambers goes on to point out, “To reach the goal (Goal 4) of decreasing deaths of children who have not yet reached their fifth birthday to four million in 2015, we estimate that 4.4 million children’s deaths must be averted in the next 1,000 days.” He believes that these goals can still be reached, based on the successes that have been demonstrated globally over the past decade.
The malaria story is perhaps the most amazing of all. In 2005, as I was broadening the scope of my philanthropic work and learning more about global poverty and development, I was shown a photo of six tiny children, two or three years old, dressed in the brightly-patterned fabrics characteristic of southeastern Africa, sleeping together on a blanket. I learned however that these beautiful children were not sleeping — they were in malaria-induced comas, and most would never get up. I was deeply saddened, but more importantly I was motivated to find a way to do something. What could be done?
He comments, “Malaria has been sickening and killing men, women and particularly children around the world for as far back as history can say,” but Chambers personally knows that much can be done to fight this disease. Chambers clarifies, “Just over a decade ago, more than a million children under the age of five were dying horrible deaths from the disease every year. … Yet today … [t]here is reason to believe that with controlling malaria and the other conditions that lead to child deaths, we can save more than four million lives in the next 1,000 days.” He concedes that though the death toll from malaria has fallen to 600,000 in Africa over the past 7 years, this is “still far too many.”
Chambers goes on to cite what has been occurring on the global level. “In the five years since … [being] asked … to become [the] Special Envoy For Malaria, our partners have raised over $4 billion, distributed over 400 million mosquito nets, provided millions of courses of medical treatment, and saved almost a million lives.” He also points to other factors, such as “effective prevention and treatment, public awareness, political will, business tools … and funding from the global community” that have helped contribute to the successes achieved in fighting malarial death in children under five.
But still more has to be accomplished. Chamber’s final challenge to all of us: How will we become involved “in the effort to save the lives of more than four million children by the end of 2015? The next 1,000 days? The countdown” has begun. On a smaller scale Fellowship of Grace Church in Peoria, AZ has been doing its part, and for this I thank them for their continuing support of the Luweero Malaria Net Ministry.
1. The Roll Back Malaria Partnership is comprised of more than 500 partners, including malaria endemic countries, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, nongovernmental and community-based organizations, foundations, and research and academic institutions.
Source: Ray Chambers. Can We Save More Than Four Million Children’s Lives In The Next 1,000 Days. Huff Post: The Big Push. [Online] March 26, 2013. [Cited: April 2, 2013.] www.huffingtonpost.com/ray-chambers/millennium-development-goals_b_2954477.html?utm_hp_ref=impact&buffer_share=dee60.