We Sub-Saharan-African PCV's are all gearing up for World Malaria Day this month (April 25th) by making an extra effort to educate our communities here and back home about the illness and what can be done to prevent it. You may already know a bit about Malaria, but I'll bet if you keep reading (and you don't work for WHO) you'll still learn a thing or two!
So, what is Malaria?Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium.
Plasmodium, as a baby, enters the bloodstream and travels to the liver, where it matures and makes more Plasmodiums. After a few days, the mature parasites leave the liver and get to work infecting blood cells.
Plasmodium is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes.
Anyway, when the female mosquitoes get pregnant, they crave blood because they need it to carry out egg production. You know how pregnant ladies are when they get cravings....
So when one of these hangry mommas bites you, you're left with not only an annoyingly itchy bite, but also a lovely batch of parasites waiting to take over your body.
What happens when you have Malaria?
Why should I care about Malaria?
- Every year, half of the world's entire population is at risk for contracting Malaria (about 3.2 billion people)
- Each year about 200 million people contract the disease and almost 600 million people die from it.
- Every 60 seconds, a child dies of Malaria.
- 90% of all Malaria deaths occur in Africa, most of them children under 5.
- In Mozambique alone, about 30% of all deaths are Malaria related, and about 14,000 children die of the disease each year.
- Parasite resistance to anti-malarial drugs has already emerged and is a serious concern, mostly caused by stopping treatment as soon as the person feels better.
- Malaria targets the poor: Since insecticide treatments, bed nets and even treatment are very expensive, most of the people affected by Malaria cannot afford to treat it or protect themselves from it. Not to mention that when working adults get sick they lose valuable income and ultimately hurt the fragile economy of the affected countries.
Is there any good news?
Great, I'll go change my facebook profile pic right now!
- Buy a mosquito bed net for just $10 to protect someone from Malaria. Forego Starbucks three times this month and you can give someone here in Africa a safe place to sleep tonight. Donate to the UN campaign Nothing But Nets here.
- Host a basketball game fundraiser for Nothing But Nets. If you're a teacher, rec league coach, or you've got kids in school, you can make this season count by hosting a game and providing mosquito nets to people in Africa. Make it extra interesting with a teachers vs. students game! Sign up to host a game here.
- Give what you can to Malaria No More, and each dollar you spend will provide one child or pregnant mother with testing and treatment for Malaria. Donate to Malaria No More here.
- Download the Best Fiends game on your phone or tablet and let Edward the mosquito teach you about Malaria through a series of puzzles! Get the app for iPhone/iPad on the app store here, or for all other devices on Google Play here.
- Donate to Peace Corp's Stomp Out Malaria campaign, and fund projects that PCVs like me are doing in their communities to educate, prevent and eradicate Malaria! Give to Stomp Out Malaria here.
- Write a letter to your member of Congress to let them know you care about funding for Malaria. Right now it's going to take an estimated 3.6 billion dollars to eradicate Malaria worldwide, but every dollar of aid counts in helping individuals. In the coming months Congress will decide how much aid the US will contribute. You can write your own letter/email, or you can use the online template here.