Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Day Late

Yesterday, which was my husband’s and my late dad’s birthday was also World Malaria Day. (Make of that what you will.) It was instituted by the World Health Assembly, the decision making body of the World Health Organization, in 2007, as a day for recognizing the global effort to provide effective control of malaria.

I was reminded of that while watching a live stream of the United Methodist Church General Conference plenary session last night. Part of the session was a report from Imagine No Malaria, the United Methodist Church’s anti-malaria program in Africa. If you didn’t know better, you might think that the UMC is single-handedly responsible for the decline in the malaria death rate world wide (the death rate has been cut in half in the last four years, from one person every thirty seconds to one person every sixty seconds), or that the global goal of near zero deaths from malaria in Africa by 2015 was their own invention. 

Not to disparage the UMC program, but there are a few other agencies involved, starting with the World Health Organization as noted above. This site has a number of links. The United States Centers for Disease Control has also been active in the fight against malaria. The President’s Malaria Initiative, launched in 2005, is another partner in the global fight against malaria.

I also need to mention my own alma mater, Tulane University. Their School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is the oldest school of public health in the country and for a long time the only U.S. school of tropical medicine.  Not surprising, because the “endemic malaria and almost yearly epidemics of cholera and yellow fever” in Louisiana were the impetus for the formation of the Tulane Medical School and later the Division of Hygiene and Public Medicine, which in 1967 became the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

This allows me to end with some good news:

Researchers from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine published an article in Malaria Journal that suggests “funding for malaria prevention in Africa over the past decade has had a substantial impact on decreasing child deaths due to malaria.” Between 2001 and 2011, malaria prevention intervention scale-up helped prevent an estimated 842,800 malaria-related child deaths, an 8.2 percent decrease over the period had malaria intervention remained unchanged since 2000. The researchers note that 99 percent of the decline can be attributed to the use of insecticide-treated bednets.
"Rapidly achieving and then maintaining universal coverage of these interventions should be an urgent priority for malaria control programs in the future," the study concludes. Researchers include Dr. Thomas Eisele, Dr. David Larsen, and Dr. Joshua Yukich.

Even though I am a day late, I was not a dollar short. I donated to Imagine No Malaria yesterday. I am fairly certain that if you have some spare cash you would like to donate, they, or any one of the several organizations you can find through the links above, won’t make you wait until next year to put that money to work. 2015 is only three years away.

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