by Dan Ruth
A few weeks before the Christmas season, the World Health Organization released its most recent findings on malaria in the World Malaria Report 2011. We are pleased to say that, because of campaigns like the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI), malaria-related mortality rates have dropped more than 33% since 2000 in sub-Saharan Africa!
Here are some other significant findings:
- Half of all households in sub-Saharan Africa now own at least one bed net (up from 3% in 2000).
- Education programs are working, as 96% of people with access to bed nets actually use them.
- Diagnostic testing has nearly doubled over the past five years for suspected malaria cases in the African region (from 26% to 45%), meaning that more people are becoming aware of the symptoms and are seeking medical help.
Our partners at the United Nations Foundation mention, in a recent press release:
“The results mean we’ve pushed back the clock even further — a child now dies every 60 seconds from malaria, in contrast to only two years ago when the rate was every 30 seconds. Incredible progress in a short span of time, but one child every minute still means far too many children are dying from malaria.”
This is fantastic progress, but there are still many challenges ahead. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, cautions that our success could be fragile if we don’t keep up the support. She says, “Data in this report show that the vast majority of distributed nets are used, and that the primary barrier to universal coverage remains access. It is our responsibility to ensure that these and other life-saving commodities reach all who need them — before our hard-won progress slips away. Achieving this will require leadership at global, national, and local levels.”
We give thanks to the loyal and committed Lutherans around the U.S. who continue to support the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. Your commitment means that fewer people are dying of this preventable and treatable disease.
Top Photo: Proscobia Johannes shows off her baby Joanika and also her coupon to get a mosquito net after taking her baby for a health screening at a Lutheran-sponsored dispensary Butainamwa, Tanzania, August 15, 2011. (Photo for LWR by Jonathan Ernst)
$1 you can help a child with malaria receive medicine. By receiving medicine once symptoms arise, malaria is treatable.
$10 you can help provide one family with an insecticide-treated bed net and the proper education on its use. A bed net can reduce malaria transmission by as much as 90 percent.
$50 you can underwrite the cost of malaria prevention messages to raise awareness on a local radio station. Many people know little about malaria, including how it’s contracted and its symptoms.
$100 you can help train healthcare workers to diagnose and treat malaria. Training medical workers is crucial to successful malaria education and treatment.
$1,000 or more you can help provide microscopes and other medical equipment to rural health clinics. Laboratory equipment helps to specially diagnose malaria.