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Continuing the Fight Against Malaria

Despite measurable gains that have been made in the past 20 years, malaria remains one of the world's deadliest diseases, causing 665,000 deaths in a year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a majority of the global impact of malaria is concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, where 91 percent of deadly cases occurred. Although several programs were launched in the mid-20th century to immunize vast numbers of families against malaria, these initiatives were suspended due to rising resistance against the immunizations and the cost of maintaining these programs.

However, according to Humanosphere, these health care projects have been reintroduced in parts of six African nations: Mali, Togo, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. In Uganda, where children sometimes suffer six occurrences of malaria in a year, scientists are exploring a malaria vaccine using artemisinin, a reliable killer of malaria parasites.

A Resurfacing Problem

Approximately 1.2 million children across sub-Saharan Africa take antimalarial drugs each year to prevent the spread of the disease and the associated loss of life. However, despite these measures, more than 600,000 children die from malaria annually, many of whom are under the age of 5. In light of recurring cases of malaria reported in several African countries, seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) programs have been reinstated in some nations.

The concentration of these initiatives has been focused on the six nations because doctors feel these preventive malarial drugs have a greater impact there than in East and South Africa, where the populations have built up resistance to the treatments. Potential resistance to artemisinin is a major concern among researchers, such as Grant Dorsey, a University of California malariologist who works in Uganda.

"We don't feel like we have another choice," Dorsey says. "Kids get malaria six times per year in Uganda, so as it is, they already take artemether/lumefantrine. It's a desperate situation."

Successfully controlling the spread of malaria is one of the greatest challenges facing health officials in Africa. According to Robert Newman, director of the malaria program at the World Health Organization, a failure to contain the malarial threat in sub-Saharan Africa could result in a widespread resurgence of the disease. This, in turn, could lead to the loss of even more lives, particularly children in poverty.

Protecting Children

Despite its prevalence and potential deadliness, malaria can be prevented with inexpensive measures, particularly with insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Malaria is endemic in 26 countries in which ChildFund operates, including Senegal, Uganda and Kenya.

ChildFund has worked in Kenya since 1960, and with approximately half of the country's population of 43 million living below the poverty line, many children's lives are at risk from preventable diseases. Malnutrition, which often affects children and pregnant women in need, weakens the immune system and makes them more susceptible to malaria and other diseases.

Chemically treated bed nets are one of the cheapest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of malaria. ChildFund's Real Gifts catalog allows you to purchase one of these nets for just $11. Your generosity and support could save a child's life, so please consider purchasing one of these chemically treated bed nets and help ChildFund save lives and protect children from this deadly disease.

Alternatively, you can buy a dozen bed nets for a gift of $132, which will help families living in Cambodia, The Gambia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Uganda or Zambia.

Malaria remains a deadly threat to many families in poverty. Please help children in need today by supporting ChildFund, and help us fight malaria in the world's poorest countries.