Too many children—one every 60 seconds—are still dying from malaria. Insecticide-treated bed nets, along with anti-malarial drugs, are among the most effective, simple and low-cost tools to keep children from getting this deadly, yet preventable, disease. As the world’s largest provider of mosquito nets, UNICEF is doing everything it can to have every child sleep under a lifesaving bed net. This World Malaria Day—and any day—you can help save lives by purchasing bed nets or anti-malarial drugs for children in need.
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Over the past couple of weeks, USAID in partnership with UNICEF launched the “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday” campaign. This sentiment really struck me, for I have two children, twin girls, who are five years old. I cannot imagine them, or any other child, not reaching their fifth birthday. But for over 7 million children who die each year from preventable causes, this is a horrible reality. We at UNICEF want to make that number zero.
Mosquito-borne illnesses are a life-and-death matter, and since World Malaria Day is right around the corner on April 25, it’s a good time to stop and take a look at the status of the fight against this ancient and often deadly disease.
On the surface, remarkable progress has been made. Over the last decade, the malaria mortality rate has decreased by over one-quarter globally, and by a full third in Africa. Some countries in particular have made spectacular gains in malaria control, and an effective malaria vaccine may finally be on the horizon. On closer inspection, however, the situation is less inspiring.
My name is Saweba. I’m a young mother from Ghana. I have given birth to three children but I only have one child. Two of my children died because of malaria. My first child, a girl, died at eighteen months old and my second, a boy, died a year later. I miss my children and I worry that I may lose my younger one to malaria as well. The thought of losing my third child is always in my heart.
|Saweba learns about malaria bednets from a UNICEF representative.|
Malaria kills almost one million children every year in this region (sub-Saharan Africa) but all we need to prevent our children from dying are mosquito nets. With these nets, our children can sleep safely at night.
UNICEF is working with our government and has distributed free bed nets to many families in the Ghana. I recently received a UNICEF bed net at a health distribution center. I am so happy that my baby will not get malaria. Because our child is healthy, it means that we will now have more money to spend on things like education. I hope every mother gets the same help. It has brought joy back into my life.
If you would like to buy a Mother’s Day present that really makes a difference, and help other mothers like Saweba to combat the severe threat posed by malaria, you can buy a Mosquito Net from UNICEF’s range of Inspired Gifts. These bed nets provide effective protection, halving the number of children who become unwell, and reducing child mortality by 20 percent.
Week 2 of my weekly photo column endeavor. Labor Day. With gratitude for all the people working non-stop around the world to save kids’ lives, here’s a new “photo of the week”:
© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0452/Riccardo Gangale
Here’s a girl registering for a medical consultation at a hospital–Specialist Hospital–in Bauchi, Nigeria.
In Nigeria, malaria is responsible for approximately 25 percent of all under-five deaths, and at Specialist Hospital, malaria patients represent an estimated 46 percent of the case load.
Though malaria is largely preventable and treatable, an estimated 250,000 children under the age of five die every year of malaria in Nigeria.
UNICEF’s strategy to combat malaria is twofold: prevention, including widespread use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and treatment, including distribution of affordable medicines.
Want to help? You can send mosquito nets to the field though UNICEF’s Inspired Gifts program. Check it out here.