Letter to the Editor: "Join Other South African Heros to Beat Malaria"
Anna McCartney-Melstad of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs wrote this letter to the editor for multiple South African publications on February 7, 2012. Anna is based in South Africa.
JOIN OTHER SOUTH AFRICAN HEROES TO BEAT MALARIA
Your recent coverage of the six malaria cases in Pretoria, “6 malaria cases confirmed in Tshwane” (http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/6-malaria-cases-confirmed-in-Tshwane-20120203, (3 February 2012) brings to light the plight facing most of sub-Saharan Africa. Although much of South Africa is lucky to be free from the scourge of malaria, this preventable and treatable disease still claims the lives of more than 800 000 people a year, many of them African women and children.
Besides this unacceptably high number of deaths, the burden of those ill with malaria immeasurably negatively impacts work productivity and school performance. There are still areas of South Africa that face malaria, especially along the Mozambique and Zimbabwe borders.
The South African National Malaria Control Programme is working towards elimination of malaria in South Africa by 2018, which will be a tremendous victory in the fight against malaria!
Malaria robs sub-Saharan Africa of its future leaders and innovators and slows development, even though something as simple as sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net or indoor residual spraying can prevent the anopheles mosquito from passing on the parasite to innocent women and children while they sleep.
Many South Africans have already taken a stand against malaria. Famed South African explorer Kingsley Holgate and singing sensation Yvonne Chaka Chaka are both champions of the United Against Malaria campaign, which brings together the private sector, football, and passionate individuals to fight this deadly disease.
Kingsley Holgate is currently on expedition along the Rift Valley in East Africa, distributing mosquito nets and malaria education materials along the way to vulnerable communities. Yvonne Chaka Chaka recently received the coveted Crystal Award for her work on malaria at the World Economic Forum in Davos. United Against Malaria is proud to count these two heroes as malaria champions.
South Africans can help their continent fight malaria by ensuring that their companies in malaria-endemic African countries are implementing malaria prevention and treatment programmes (see http://www.malariafreefuture.org/malaria-safe).
South Africans can also simply visit any Exclusive Books store and buy a United Against Malaria bracelet, made by disadvantaged individuals in the townships of Cape Town – from which a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which provides lifesaving malaria prevention and treatment tools to African countries.
See http://www.unitedagainstmalaria.org for more information, and join Kingsley Holgate, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and many South African businesses today in kicking malaria out of Africa!
Anna McCartney-Melstad, MA, MHS, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs, on behalf of United Against Malaria-South Africa