My coworker reminded me this morning that it is World Malaria Day, and I'm so glad she did. (My brain is still about 30% phlegm and not paying attention to the news.) Half the world's population is at risk for malaria, the mosquito-borne infectious disease that totaled an estimated 216 million cases last year and 655,000 deaths. About 90% of these deaths in 2010 occurred on the African continent, most of them kids less than five years old.* But despite these sobering stats, huge strides have been made in reducing the number of cases and mortality rates through protective nets, home-spraying with insecticide, effective testing for and the prompt treatment of malaria cases.
World Malaria Day began in 2007, initiated by the World Health Assembly as "a day for recognizing the global effort to provide effective control of malaria." This year's theme, "Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria," speaks to the idea that continued investment is needed to maintain current practices and allow for widespread adoption of important health interventions. And while it will take about $7 billion USD annually over the next ten years to end malaria worldwide, the direct economic loss from letting malaria run rampant is estimated at $12 billion USD in Africa alone.**
Join the fight today! Against Malaria is a UK-based charity that distributes long-lasting insecticidal nets. They are highly ranked for their effectiveness and transparency, with an average cost per net of about $4.22. It's really easy to donate online with Visa or MasterCard, and you get to track where your nets are distributed. I'm excited to see where my five nets end up, and encourage you to consider donating just a few dollars to save lives!
*All stats from the World Health Organization
**See here for more information.