I’ve seen first hand what malaria can do.
I’ve had friends and relatives with the dreadful disease. I’ve watched with horror as one friend – a perfectly fit, European man – succumbed to reoccuring bouts of malarial fever. He said he could actually feel the parasites multiplying, draining his blood of oxygen carrying platelets, sapping his energy and strength. My Australian Great Uncle also had malaria, contracted during his time in military service as an ANZAC. He suffered throughout his life, dragging his afflicted body through reoccurence after reoccurence. It seems fitting to remember him today, World Malaria Day, and also ANZAC day.
Though these faces of the world’s largest killer are personal, they aren’t the reason why I decided to write this blog post in response to a request from World Vision. Neither was my experience of malaria, first hand, living as a child in Fiji where we used to burn mosquito coils that wafted their stinky smokescreen. You see, we had remedies against Malaria, as did everyone we knew – whether mosquito nets, or sprays, or coils – and both of the people I know survived their run-ins with Malaria, as they had access to modern medicine and care, but many, many more do not.
Over one million people, per year, die of malaria.
And most of those deaths are preventable. Every six minutes a child dies from malaria, and over 216 million fall seriously ill with the disease each year.
Of course lots can be done, and is already being done, to stop the spread of malaria. Recent initiatives have included providing mosquito nets for some of the world’s poorest people, providing insecticide sprays and providing antimalarial medicines. In Africa alone, malarial deaths have decreased by one third during the last decade alone.
But is it enough?
I don’t think so. The gains that have already been made in the war against malaria are fragile, and unless the struggle against malaria can continue to be highlighted to a western world – who is largely untroubled by the disease – these gains can easily be overtaken once again.
World Vision have taken a very modern approach to raising awareness about the struggle against Malaria, in the development of a new game app called Bye Bye Mosquito. It’s a cute wee app where the main objective is to squash the mozzie as it buzzes across your screen. Once squashed it makes a delicious mess, and I took great pleasure in trying to smash the buggers, particularly given my rising stress levels and the depressing weather outside.
Bye Bye Mosquito is available in the istore, on Google Play and online. Go on give it a go, and as you do remember that squashing malaria can be just as simple.
Meanwhile, I can’t wait for Miss Fliss to get home and have a go! She’s great at gaming, and she’ll kill em.