Thursday, April 25, 2013

World Malaria Day

Roll Back Malaria World Malaria Day 2009

Babies shouldn't die from mosquito bites.  Can you imagine what it would be like if that happened here in the United States?  We’d never let our children play outside.  If they had to go out we’d dip them in buckets of DEET.  There would be a huge industry for giant net tents that would cover our whole house and protect us from the horrible little attackers.

Thankfully, here in the US mosquitoes are mostly just irritating and mostly not deadly.  But for most of the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world mosquitoes equal malaria and malaria can be deadly.

Today is World Malaria Day.  The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about the danger of malaria and to let people know that it is completely preventable.

Malaria is bad.  It is scary. It is deadly, but it is treatable and preventable.

All five of my Congolese children have suffered from cases of malaria.  A sixth daughter that we named Lisette died before we could bring her home.  So even though malaria doesn't happen here in the US, for me it is very personal.

So here comes some awareness raising:
  • Malaria is a parasite that lives in a mosquito and is transmitted through human blood.  When a mosquito bites a person who already has malaria, the contaminated blood is passed on to the next person they bite.
  • Malaria can lie dormant in your blood and liver for a long as 4 years.
  • Malaria kills over 1 million people per year.
  • Between 300-500 million people suffer from cases of malaria each year.
  • Children under 5 years old are most vulnerable to the effects of malaria.
  • In Africa, a child dies every 30 SECONDS.
In my experience with malaria, treatment costs almost nothing, but more than most orphanages can afford.  So countless numbers of children die without ever being treated.  And if you live in a place like Congo or Vietnam or Haiti, it's not if you get malaria, but when and how often.

So what can you do from the comfort of your nice, cool, mosquito free home?  Raise awareness!  Share this blog post or the link at the top of the page.  Have a conversation about malaria.  Mention it on FaceBook.  If you can, donate to an organization like Our Family in Africa, that provides things like bed nets and medical treatment to children in orphanages.  And the next one is really easy--

For every video view of HBO Films’ MARY AND MARTHA trailer on April 25th, World Malaria Day, Malaria No More will provide a full course of treatment for a child with malaria.

I wish I could send all of you to spend a week in Congo (after you had started taking your anti-malaria drugs, of course), to an orphanage to hold a baby suffering from the fever and dehydration of malaria.  I wish I could make it personal for you.

Because babies shouldn't die from mosquito bites.
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