Looking back on some of the first nights in my homestay, I remember seeing the two-year old of the family sleeping on a mattress in the living room without a mosquito net. There was a mosquito net, but it was tied up above the bed of my parents in the other room. For the most part, it looked unused. Across the house a little ways, another mosquito net-less room caught my eye — the room where the children sleep. I didn’t understand why this was the case and I wished at the time that there was some kind of reminder around them that didn’t have to be one of their children getting malaria.
Malaria is a preventable, curable disease, yet hundreds of thousands die from it annually. Why? There are a multitude of reasons, of course, some of them involving money, some of them involving the health care system, but many of them also involving prevention and education. And although issues with money and healthcare can often be circular problems, outside of that circle lies the basic steps: prevention and education.
Malaria No More is an NGO based in New York with the goal to end deaths caused by Malaria in Africa by 2015. Their approach – the simple basics: education of symptoms, for quick, efficient detection and therefore quick treatment, and prevention, which includes sleeping under a treated net during the evening. Malaria No More has teamed up with partnerships such as The Alliance for Malaria Prevention (AMP) and MACEPA in 32 countries around Africa. Training workshops, social networking movements, and events partnered with local NGO’s and companies begin on the inside and work their way out. A recent approach involves the sending of SMS messages to Tigo carriers in Senegal, reminding them that their children should be asleep under nets for a “fanaan jamm”, or “a night spent in peace”.
One of these events, a walk in Dakar on April 17th, was one that I and many other fellows participated in for this cause. Seeing the faces of hundreds of Senegalese strangers all bound for the same cause paved a good path for the chance that eradication of malaria-related deaths in Africa by 2015 is a possibility. But with this possibility comes responsibility of not just Malaria No More, but of those who are educated about malaria and can prevent others and themselves from contracting this parasite. This responsibility begins with education and ends with placing your two-year old and your children under a mosquito net for a night spent in peace.