“I get bitten loads of times at night. I get sick five times a year, I think. I do not have a mosquito net. My brother does, but I don’t.”
Many families like Nanawewje’s do not have enough mosquito nets. Their extreme poverty forces them to prioritise who will get to sleep under the net or even who gets malaria treatment if they become sick.
As World Malaria Day (26th April) approaches, it is shocking to think that a preventable and curable disease like malaria still kills nearly 850,000 people each year – mostly children even younger than Nanawewje and mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Yet this year marks a significant milestone in the meeting of malaria control targets among the development community and there has been some excellent progress in the fight against the disease. It is as a result of these interventions that the number of child deaths from malaria is estimated to have dropped from 3,000 a day to 2,000, according to the latest Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) report.
“If it takes us almost 15 years to reduce child deaths from malaria from a child every 30 seconds to a child every 45 seconds, we will never beat malaria,” said Sunil Mehra, Executive Director of Malaria Consortium at a recent reception to mark World Malaria Day at the United Nations in New York.
“We’re at a critical crossroads in the fight against malaria,” he added. “There has been significant support from donors in recent years, but what really needed is sustained, long-term resources for a wide range of activities to beat this disease.”
In RBM’s report it is estimated that $6 billion will be needed in 2010 for the widespread malaria control activities. At the moment, funding amounts to one third of that requirement. This annual amount will gradually lessen, however, once control measures become embedded and sustainable.
“It is crucial that donors don’t stop their support for malaria control activities, but what is really needed is over the long term is for the national governments of those countries affected by the disease to commit resources from within their health budgets.”
Mr Mehra was co-hosting a reception with RBM at the public gallery of the UN Headquarters in New York, with guests of honour Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium. Some 250 guests attended the reception, which included a special viewing of the highly successful photographic exhibition Malaria: blood, sweat, and tears by award-winning photographer Adam Nadel, which was commissioned by Malaria Consortium, the world’s leading non-profit organisation dedicated to comprehensive control of malaria. The story of Nanawewje is just one of the featured portraits of people living with malaria on a daily basis. To view the exhibition online, please visit www.malaria-bloodsweatandtears.com.