USA (MNN) — Most Americans never think about malaria because the disease poses no threat to their families. Yet in the developing world, 200 million people are sickened by the illness every year–and 438,000 of them die.
Almost 80% of those killed are children under age 5.
Humanitarian groups around the world have banded together to fight the scourge of malaria, and one Christian group joining them is Blessings International, an organization based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Blessings International provides quality, affordable medicine for mission teams demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ in the U.S. and around the world.
Barry Ewy, CEO of Blessings International, sees the April 25 observance of World Malaria Day as an opportunity to raise awareness about the problem of malaria.
Malaria is widespread, as well as deadly. Almost half the world’s population lives in areas at risk for the mosquito-borne illness. The struggling economies of the 97 countries afflicted by malaria absorb an estimated $1.2 trillion–up to 40% of their public health spending, according to worldmalariaday.org. The costs of treatment keep poor families trapped in a cycle of illness and poverty.
Yet, none of this is necessary. “One of the frustrating things for those of us who are working in this area is that it’s preventable,” Ewy says. “We’ve seen prevention in the United States that has worked very well. But unfortunately many developing nations don’t have the infrastructure that’s necessary to both deal with and prevent malaria.”
A major problem outside the U.S. is that many people simply cannot afford malaria medication. “For example, chloroquine tablets–for a full treatment for an adult–are only somewhere around a dollar and a half. Very reasonable,” Ewy says. “But if you are living in a developing nation, a dollar is a day’s wages. That can certainly be difficult for those people to be able to obtain.”
On top of that, some of the malaria medicines distributed overseas are either counterfeit or substandard.
“Putting counterfeit medicine in the hands of someone who is suffering from malaria is basically just putting sugar tablets in their hands, and it’s doing nothing,” Ewy says. “We want to be sure that people are getting the medicine, the quality medicine that they need to prevent and to treat the diseases that we know are out there.”
In support of this year’s theme for World Malaria Day — “End malaria for good” — Blessings International is partnering with another Tulsa-based group, Kairos 10, to put a big dent in the number of people suffering from the disease.
Kairos 10 sells jewelry handmade by African artisans and pours proceeds of their sales into the fight against malaria. Blessings International is partnering with Kairos 10 to donate a full dose of malaria medicine and a treated anti-mosquito bed net for each bracelet Kairos 10 sells during April and May.
The malaria medicine will be used by mission teams that show and share the love of Christ in Africa, Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean, where malaria threatens both livelihoods and lives.
In this series of items on the anti-malaria partnership between Blessings International and Kairos 10, we will be examining in depth the causes, effects, and solutions of the malaria scourge.
Please pray that God’s people will feel His heart for those suffering with malaria and help get the disease under control. Pray that acts of compassion like these will open hearts to the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ.
For more information about the anti-malaria campaign, visit www.blessing.org. At the site, you also can learn more about Blessings International’s 35-year ministry and some of the almost 3,000 teams they helped in 99 countries during 2015.