Every year on April 25, organisations and individuals across the globe unite in commemorating the world-wide effort to eliminate malaria – a deadly illness transmitted by mosquitos – in World Malaria Day.
However, this year marks a significant milestone in the history of campaigns against the disease. The “Decade to Roll Back Malaria” is almost at its end. The world now has less than 9 months to meet targets put in place by the UN General Secretary on reducing the spread and fatality of malaria by providing adequate and affordable treatment as well as putting preventative measures into place.
Roll Back Malaria has urged companies, governments, charities and individuals to use this day to think about how they can help combat malaria, the eradication of which would significantly improve UN members’ chances of achieving the Millenium Development Goals.
Executive Director of RBM Partnership, Dr. Coll Seck told UNICEF: “Investment in malaria control is saving lives and reaping far-reaching benefits for countries. But without sustained and predictable funding, the significant contribution of malaria control towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals could be reversed.”
Malaria is a disease passed from person to person through mosquitos. Around half of the world’s population is at risk of getting it and the disease kills millions of people each year, mostly in Africa. However, malaria is a treatable and preventable illness. Thanks to the efforts of organizations like the UN, countries have already started to make affordable medication available and put preventative measures into place, such as distributing mosquito nets.
In 2005, actress Sharon Stone helped solicit pledges for $1 million for mosquito nets in Tanzania. Another celebrity who has acted as spokesperson for malaria prevention is footballer David Beckham, who is an ambassador for children’s charity UNICEF and supporter of the campaign Malaria No More.
According to Look to the Stars, Beckham commented: “We can’t turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of young children who die every day in the developing world mostly from causes that are preventable.
“In Sierra Leone, one in four children dies before reaching their fifth birthday – it’s shocking and tragic especially when the solutions are simple – things like vaccinations against measles or using a mosquito net to reduce the chance of getting malaria. Saving these children’s lives is a top priority for UNICEF and as an ambassador I hope I can help to draw attention to this issue across the world.”
Celebrities who have suffered from malaria include Cheryl Cole.
Images: Wikimedia Commons