Saturday, April 26, 2008

World Malaria Day - April 25th

Thankfully, I am living in a malaria-free area of South Africa. However, there is a good portion of South Africa which is not, nor is the vast majority of Africa. In fact, 90% of malaria cases worldwide occur in Africa. This summer, all of the students and teachers who accompanied me to Ghana had to be on malaria medication, in case we were bitten by a malaria-infected mosquito. I will also take malaria medication when I travel this summer to countries surrounding South Africa.

Malaria is a HUGE, HUGE problem. More than half a BILLION people are infected with malaria each year, and out of those, over a million die. The incredibly frustrating thing is that malaria is completely treatable and preventable. First, there is medication - both in helping to prevent the serious illness caused by malaria (such as the medication I take when travelling to malaria-infected areas), and that can be taken as treatment once one is infected by malaria. Even in areas where medication like I was able to take is unaffordable, there are simple precautionary measures such as bed nets and mosquito repellent or insecticide. It is just a matter of making such preventable measures available to people and setting up community education programs to spread the word about ways to prevent the disease.

This year, World Malaria Day was celebrated for the first time ever, with a call from the Secretary General of the UN to rally around goals to put in the measures to drastically cut down the number of deaths caused by malaria each year. I was so excited to see my inbox flooded with information about World Malaria Day yesterday, and I hope everyone will take a couple of minutes to read up about the monstrosity of a problem it is and what can be done about it. :)

"UN launches drive against malaria

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked World Malaria Day Friday by launching a fresh campaign against the disease, which continues to kill more than a million people every year, mostly children. The new drive aims to help provide all African countries with sufficient supplies of mosquito nets or high-quality household sprays by the end of 2010, in addition to more health clinics and special treatment centers for pregnant women." -

Read more about UN efforts to end malaria deaths here, or here.

No comments: