Guest Post: Kicking Malaria Out of Africa

By Andrew Bonifiglia

June 13, 2010 – Johannesburg, South Africa

Kicking Malaria Out of Africa

There are plenty of good causes that will benefit from the hype, sponsorship, and promotion that the World Cup brings to South Africa. One in particular caught my interest; United Against Malaria (http://unitedagainstmalaria.org/).

With a mission to “Kick Malaria Out of Africa” the organization is using the World Cup as a platform to promote malaria prevention and treatment. Like HIV/AIDS, malaria is not only a social and health issue, but an economic one. Employee sick days, lost productivity from those infected with the disease, and employee vacation or unpaid leave due to family members having the illness all impact a company’s bottom line. 850,000 people die from malaria each year[i]. When you take into consideration the points I just made, that can add up to millions upon millions of Rands. And please don’t think I’m cold hearted. The reason the economics are so important is because organizations like United Against Malaria, coupled with the reach and financial resources of governments and large corporations operating in Africa, can win the fight against malaria. Behavioral change is the ultimate goal. The population at-large needs to understand the risks associated with malaria, how it can be prevented, and most importantly, MODIFY behavior to mitigate the chance of becoming part of the statistics. Hopefully, the amount of coverage the World Cup draws to UAM and malaria in general will be the impetus to an Africa where malaria has been “kicked out.”

And just a final comment; the push to reduce the number of malaria cases in Africa is not a new thing. However, the paradox is that it is a completely preventable disease and one that can be treated (much easier than HIV/AIDS). With that in mind, I think it is a cause worth fighting for and one where the goal can be realized if all of the stakeholders come together.

[And a quick thank you to Celia Deitz who is working for United Against Malaria and was kind enough to give me a few minutes of her time to learn about the great work she and the organization are doing] [i]

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=34465&Cr=malaria&Cr1=

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2010 World Cup to be turning point against Malaria in Africa

I found this article in the online English language version of a Chinese newspaper, Xinhuanet.com.  This discovery in itself was interesting.  But what really caught my attention was the news that the World Economic Forum on Africa, along with the attention on the Continent due to the upcoming World Cup, was going to be leveraged to further the fight against malaria.

As the article states, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, Ray Chambers, in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania said:

“African countries and international organizations will grasp the opportunity of the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa to advocate the fight against malaria and accelerate actions of confronting the No.1 killer of children under five on the continent”

Chambers continued…

“We are on track to reach our fundamental goal of getting mosquito nets to all those in need by the end of 2010, but we still have to make sure the nets are being used properly…by combining Africa’s enthusiasm for football with messages encouraging proper net utilization, we know we can save lives.”

At the World Economic Forum on Africa, a gathering of more than 10 African heads of state and government, and around 1,000 participants from over 80 countries to discuss the continent’s development agenda, the 26-member African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) and the United Against Malaria (UAM) partnership on Wednesday issued a challenge to business and football associations to help make the first FIFA World Cup to be held on African soil a turning point in eliminating malaria across Africa.

This is all wonderful news.  The World Economic Forum is a  gathering of heavy-hitter thinkers and power brokers.  Hopefully, leveraging this event and the upcoming World Cup will continue the momentum around achieving the goal of reducing malaria deaths to near zero by 2015.  This is one goal that seems very achievable and I hope that the global spotlight of the World Cup will be fully leveraged to push this cause.  But if this story remains hidden away on the English language version of an online Chinese newspaper, I’m a bit concerned.  Hopefully this story gets more coverage in major news outlets and becomes more of a cause to rally around as the games get closer.  And hopefully some businesses get involved in the cause.  This seems like an issue that many corporations and industries, from pharmaceuticals to textiles, could easily get on board with.

To read the original article, click here: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/health/2010-05/06/c_13280018.htm

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