World Malaria Day 2012 provides framework for change

By April 23, 2012

India (IPS/MNN) —  In 2010, about 3.3 billion people–almost half of the world's population–were at risk of malaria. Every year,
this leads to about 216 million malaria cases and an estimated 655,000 deaths.

The
sad thing is: these deaths are preventable with things as simple as awareness,
nets, and a little practical help. That's what's behind World Malaria Day, which is April 25.

The
theme for World Malaria Day 2012 — "Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest
in Malaria"
— marks a change in the history of malaria control. It's a doable goal, too; awareness
and prevention campaigns could lead to near-zero deaths by 2015 as part of
reaching Millennium Development Goals.

Brent Hample is President of India Partners, a ministry which is actively involved in
helping the poorest of the poor, where vulnerability to malaria is
disproportionately high. Experts say there are an estimated
205,000 malaria deaths in India every year.

Hample explains, "One of the easiest ways to prevent it is to
prevent being bitten by mosquitoes that carry malaria by using mosquito
nets."

With everyone's help, India Partners distributed
1,645 long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets in the last year,
protecting 5,913 people in India from the spread of malaria. Their approach is
a double whammy. "For the
nets that are treated with insecticide: once the mosquitoes come into contact
with the net, they'll die. So it
prevents not only the actual mosquito biting, but it will kill the
mosquito." Christianity Today
reports that "modern malaria nets are proven to reduce instances of malaria by
50% and malaria mortality by 20%."

Hample says the nets are also one way to introduce themselves to a
community. Our partners on the ground go into the villages with the nets and distribute
them, usually through the local church to the people in the villages so that
they know that the nets are coming through the faith community there in the
village."  

They go into leper colonies and areas where the Dalits
("untouchables") live to bring nets, compassion, and a little hope to those who
are generally overlooked by society.

For example, India Partners shares the difference a
net made in the life of Bhavani:

The home
where Bhavani's family lives is swarming with mosquitoes due to the two water
buffaloes that they raise for their small-scale milk business.

Their family was constantly
suffering from fever, jaundice, and malaria, and they were unable to protect
themselves from further infection because they could not afford to buy a
mosquito net.

When Bhavani's family received an
insecticide-treated mosquito net from India Partners, her family was extremely
thankful for the wonderful and useful gift. The mosquito net now serves as a
great protection for their family, and they are grateful for those who helped
to provide it.

More
than that, it is the first step toward creating relationship. Hample explains, "It
creates a relationship of compassion. As Jesus has commanded us to care for our
neighbors, we are caring for you. It opens doors. People will respond and get
to know their local Christian community that maybe they avoided. But now, this
outreach that is taking place is breaking the ice and helping them to
understand what Christians are about."

India Partners hopes many people will come alongside
them to invest in India's future. $10
per net helps get things started. Check
our Featured Links Section for details. 

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