Malaria Awareness Day 2012
As most District Rotarians will be aware, some years ago the World Health Organisation (WHO) through its subsidiary body Roll Back Malaria, determined that 25 April would be World Malaria Day
. For obvious reasons, here in Australia, Rotarians Against Malaria (RAM), one of the arms of Rotary Australia World Community Service Ltd (RAWCS), decided to recognise 30 April as Malaria Awareness Day
. Because we chose not to do anything else on ANZAC Day, doesn’t mean we don’t have to go along with WHO.
It has announced that the theme for World Malaria Day 2012 - "Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria". WHO says, “Whether the malaria map will keep shrinking, as it has in the past decade, or be reclaimed by the malaria parasites, depends, to a great extent, on the resources that will be invested in control efforts over the next years” WHO then goes on to remind us that , “Investments in malaria control have created unprecedented momentum and yielded remarkable returns in the past years. In Africa, malaria deaths have been cut by one third within the last decade; outside of Africa, 35 out of the 53 countries, affected by malaria, have reduced cases by 50% in the same time period. In countries where access to malaria control interventions has improved most significantly, overall child mortality rates have fallen by approximately 20 per cent”
The main “control intervention” we Australian Rotarians have been involved in now for a number of years is the provision of long lasting, insecticide treated, mosquito nets (LLINs) through RAM’s Adopt A Village program. We know this is working. Those who have seen the latest National RAM Newsletter, will have read that in the Solomons, the annual incidence of confirmed malaria cases (Annual Parasite Incidence) has decreased markedly to under 47 cases per 1,000 population in 2011 (actual data available at present indicates an API of 46.5 cases per 1,000 population in 2011). This is down from 75 cases per 1,000 population incidence in 2010. Those who have been around for a while, will recall that when the Solomons 3-H Grant was initiated, parts of the country had an API of over 700 cases per 1,000 population – that was just eleven years ago. What a change!
But we have to keep it going. As WHO says, “Sustaining malaria control efforts is an investment in development. Continued investment in malaria control now will propel malaria-endemic countries along the path to achieving the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, especially those relating to improving child survival and maternal health, eradicating extreme poverty and expanding access to education.
Our Malaria Awareness Day this year falls on a Monday. During that week, invite someone to speak at your Club on malaria and, better still, make a decision to support RAM efforts amongst our neighbours to our near-North. At present we’re concentrating our collections for our Adopt A Village program in Timor Leste. Please support us – make a donation and adopt a village in Timor Leste.
Not long ago Melinda Gates said, “The continuing toll of malaria is a moral outrage—we would not allow it in the U.S., and we should not allow it anywhere. It’s time to close the gap in funding, accelerate research, and work together in a more strategic way to strengthen the global malaria fight”
We as Rotarians need to ponder on what we stand for as Rotarians and how we can make a difference in those countries to our near north.
Rotarians Against Malaria in Australia has set aside 30 April as Malaria Awareness Day. During the week in which that date occurs, that is, from 26 April, we are engaging in a major campaign to make the general public, as well as Rotarians, more aware of the very serious impact of this dreadful disease. We are hoping there will be a number of community service announcements aired on television during this period. Interested members of the public will be asked to contact their nearest Rotary club. When they do, make sure they learn about our anti-malaria work.
What will you do during Malaria Awareness Week?
You can choose to be directly involved in a number of ways to raise the awareness of malaria in your area e.g. Instead of presenting the guest speaker with a gift, donate the $$$s towards the purchase of mosquito nets. Provide a gift voucher acknowledging – “A Malaria net has been donated on your behalf.”
Remember, one bed net costs just $10 to buy and can safely last a family for up to five years. Come on Rotarians let’s Make A Difference!
National Rotarians Against Malaria Committee