From: Canadian Broadcasting Company
More needs to be done to fight malaria, one of the biggest killers of children in Africa, advocates said Wednesday in support of a bed-net fundraising campaign.
For several years, African governments have marked April 25 as Africa Malaria Day, to raise awareness of the devastating effect the disease has on the continent. The infectious disease kills one million children in Africa a year, with 3,000 children dying daily.
Abuk Pearson from Darfur beat the odds for African children by surviving malaria.
Mosquitoes tend to bite at night while children are sleeping, but bed nets can help. UNICEF studies suggest proper use of insecticide-treated bed nets can cut transmission in half, and reduce under-five mortality from all causes by up to 25 per cent.
Canadians are responding to the Spread the Net campaign launched last year by MP Belinda Stronach and satirist Rick Mercer.
Under the motto “Ten bucks. One bed net. One life,” the campaign aims to send 500,000 bed nets to Liberia and Rwanda over the next two years. UNICEF will distribute the bed nets.
“I give 10 bucks, I can prevent a child from getting sick or dying,” said Nigel Fisher, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada. “That’s impact.”
Campaign posters declare that a child dies every 30 seconds, a statistic that startled Laurie Hunter of Oakville, Ont.
“It’s such a simple, low-cost solution to children dying,” said Hunter. “I see my kids tucked into bed safe, and I think as a mother it’s hard to believe.”
Spread the Net ambassador and Liberal MP Glen Pearson from London, Ont., said it was easy to have his malaria treated in Canada, but the treatment is not readily available in Africa.
“It can be beat, and it has been beat in our family’s case,” Pearson said of his adopted daughter Abuk, who was underweight and infected with malaria in Darfur. She was not expected to survive.
Last year, Pearson discovered Abuk’s twin sister and older brother were also alive. The family now plans to adopt Abuk’s sibilings, who also have malaria, saying she has the right to live with her own family.