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Preventing Malaria Deaths, One Mosquito Bite At A Time (VIDEO)

Preventing Malaria Deaths, One Mosquito Bite At A Time (VIDEO)

Ronnie is a five year old girl living in Papua, New Guinea. Sick with malaria and convulsing, her parents traveled over an hour to get to the nearest hospital. Fortunately for Ronnie, the doctor was successful in treating her, but children with malaria can die quickly once convulsions start.

It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, a five year old still risks death from a simple mosquito bite. Unfortunately, Ronnie’s story is far too common, not only in Papua — where more than 90% of the population is at high risk for malaria infection, but across sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia and South America as well.

You can watch Ronnie’s story here:

Deaths from malaria may be severely underestimated worldwide according to a study published earlier this year in The LancetAs Care2′s Anna Klenke reported, The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated 655,000 malaria deaths worldwide for 2010, but the Lancet study suggests that 1.24 million people may have actually died from malaria that year.

The good news is that global malaria prevention has scaled up over the past decade, and death rates have fallen by a third, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where the majority of cases occur, and particularly since organizations like The Global Fund have invested in treatment and prevention strategies.

The Global Fund in fact, provides 65% of funding to fight malaria worldwide. Other programs, such as the United Nations Foundation’s “Nothing But Nets” campaign, which has raised millions of dollars since its inception in 2006 to provide bed nets to those who need them most, are also helping the fight. Bed nets, which are treated with insecticide and cover people while they sleep, have been one of the most effective preventative measures against malaria. Through Global Fund-supported programs, 230 million bed nets have been distributed to protect families against the disease.

“In the past ten years, increased investment in malaria prevention and control has saved more than a million lives,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General in a statement for World Malaria Day, which is today. “This is a tremendous achievement. But we are still far from achieving universal access to life-saving malaria interventions.”

Part of the issue of course is the need to ensure bed nets are being used properly. Ronnie became infected because her family didn’t use their bed net – they chose to sleep outside where it was cooler. Educating families about how to use the nets and other measures they can take to protect themselves is key. Also key is providing access to both life-saving and cost-effective interventions.

World Malaria Day provides a good opportunity to look at, and think about priorities in eradicating this totally preventable disease. “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria” is this year’s World Malaria Day theme. It’s vital to keep the momentum going. There’s a direct correlation between the funding and prevention.

“Until countries are able to test, treat, and report every malaria case, we will never defeat this disease,” said Dr. Chan, who is in Namibia for World Malaria Day this year. “We need strong and sustained political commitment from all countries where malaria is endemic, and from the global health community, to see this fight through to the end.”

Malaria is one of the Millennium Development Goals that actually can be met by 2015, the question that remains is whether or not world leaders choose to keep malaria prevention a priority. Considering most malaria deaths occur in children under the age of five, the future really does depend on it.

Related reading:

Worldwide Malaria Deaths Severely Underestimated

Low Tech Bed Nets Aim High In The Fight Against Malaria

Fighting The Good Fight Against AIDS, TB And malaria (VIDEO)

Photo credit: The Global Fund / John Rae

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2:08PM PDT on May 31, 2012

Would you like to use your computer to help find cures for malaria? If so, see here and click on the small pictures under the big picture to find the one related to malaria:

11:12AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

sadly noted

7:38PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

MMS CURES MALARIA! AND a LOT of other diseases as well. He developed it but does not sell it. You can find it for sale at many websites! RESEARCH IT FOR YOURSELVES! NOBODY will care about you as much as YOU! Most of mainstream Medicine only cares about the MONEY. SAD BUT TRUE.

7:31PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

Too many people, too many problems! When will we realise that we have already overpopulated this once pristine planet.

7:31PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

Too many people, too many problems! When will we realise that we have already overpopulated this once pristine planet.

7:31PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

Too many people, too many problems! When will we realise that we have already overpopulated this once pristine planet.

5:20PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

This is a third world problem. Lets worry about problems in our own back yard for a change.

3:39PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

Bob S. Are you really that ignorant, or do you just play an idiot on tv...?

12:45PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

Poor children they will find peace in heaven

10:47AM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

Thank you for the article...

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