THE BLOG

Fighting Malaria: The Cure Is Action

Every year, malaria disables a population size roughly equal to that of the U.S. population - 300 million people.

One of the obstacles confronting malaria control efforts is that, while we know the cause of the disease and how to prevent it, its presence in a particular region doesn't seem to be motive enough for the more developed and economically powerful nations to step into the fight. For example, the two events that motivated the U.S. to attack malaria were the construction of the Panama Canal and World War II. In the former, we needed healthy men to dig; in the latter we needed healthy men to fight. In Central America and Southeast Asia, malaria frustrated our efforts, so we stopped it. Compassion had nothing to do with it. Commerce and national defense were the motivators. Fair enough. We beat the bugs and got both jobs done.

Today most of the misery and death-dealing resulting from the scourge of malaria is concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa (though there are still millions of cases in Asia and other tropical areas of the globe). But the malaria-free world doesn't seem to have enough of a stake here - at least not a stake large enough to result in a massive campaign against the disease. Until recently.

The "BedNets Now!" campaign is an effort with very strong motivation. Its driving force relies on another motivator: faith. People of virtually all faiths worldwide share many common values, but the one that is near to the heart of all them is compassion. "BedNets Now!" calls to people around the world to listen to the mandates of their own faith and to see the simple fact that ending malaria in the poorest regions of the world is "do-able" and should be done. The campaign highlights the work of its partner the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and 21 other leading malaria organizations, both religious and secular. Its intended to raise awareness of the disease and motivate action against it. The immediate goal is simple: raise money to get anti-mosquito bednets to stricken areas of Africa. Properly used, these can make threatened populations whole again. They can keep people healthy so they can hold productive jobs and keep their families together. All that can begin to reverse the social and economic debilitation that follows in the wake of malaria. "BedNets Now!" calls to communities of faith to take up this challenge in the name of compassion (go to: www.OdysseyNetworks.org for good "starter" information) to organize locally and join in the effort to end malaria on our planet before the end of this decade. The numbers the disease strikes annually are staggering, but the number of faith communities who can rise to the challenge (just in the U.S.) is also large - 300,000. If each of those raised $500/year for two years they could put a bed net over the sleeping areas of 30 million children and adults in Africa.

ACTION is the cure.