World Malaria Day and the simple gift of a mosquito net

By April 25, 2018
mosquito, malaria

India (MNN) – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria is deadliest when contracted by children under the age of five. In fact, about 70 percent of deaths by this mosquito-transmitted illness hit this age group. In 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria with 445,000 of those cases ending in death.

Today is World Malaria Day which is dedicated to finding solutions, together, to fight malaria. This year’s theme is “Ready to Beat Malaria.”

While most malaria cases take place on the African continent, we can’t ignore that it’s also a very real issue in India, as well. WHO noted earlier this year that India has made great strides to fight malaria in the last 18 years, but that the state of Odisha, for instance, was still struggling. In other words, the fight against malaria is not over in India. This is particularly true in rural areas where poverty also is prevalent.

Donna Glass of India Partners says, “The greatest problems exist in rural villages because the people cannot afford to have what’s called a long-lasting insecticide net.”

(Photo courtesy of India Partners)

Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) are a recommended form of malaria prevention. And, as the name suggests, these nets are treated with insecticide and can last for many years. They are extremely effective at protecting people from mosquito bites while they sleep.

But just because it’s a simple, long-term solution does not mean it’s attainable for everyone.

“When you’re living on less than $2 a day and you’ve got a family, [these] nets that are about $10 becomes out of your range of what you can afford for your family,” Glass explains.

In urban areas, the government steps in to help with controlling mosquito populations. Glass says during the monsoon season when water begins to pool in parts of the city, the government will spray or bomb insecticide throughout the cities.

“That helps to reduce the incidences of malaria within the cities. But, when you live out in a rural village, you don’t have that option, it’s not available to you.”

Malaria is well known to be a treatable and preventable disease, and many decades ago, it was almost eradicated from India. But there’s a reason that impoverished people are at greater risk of getting seriously ill. First of all, they typically cannot afford prevention tools. And when they do get sick, they can’t afford medical care. Furthermore, when adults are sick, it means they aren’t earning a wage, restricting their ability to get health care for the next ailment.

And, Glass says, “Children, if they get sick, they can’t go to school. So, the lack of education—that cycle just continues to spiral down when you’re affected with malaria, or any kind of illness. So, it definitely contributes to the poverty issues.”

In places like the United States, $10 is a relatively low cost to be able to save lives, especially when you consider that these LLINs are not only preventing malaria, but they’re also preventing people from sinking deeper into poverty.

India Partners works with several indigenous Indian agencies who are operating in high-risk villages. When you come alongside India Partners in this project, you’re allowing these agencies to purchase nets within India and distribute them where they are needed.

“Sometimes several members of a family will sleep in the same bed in India. And, so, several people are being protected with one net because the mosquitos are most active at nighttime. And, when we give folks a net… they are taught how to… use it properly over their beds,” Glass says.

So, what about you? Do you want to make an impact for World Malaria Day? Would you consider helping India Partners realize their vision of an India rich in hope, justice, and compassion? Consider walking alongside India Partners to provide a net or two for people in India. You can give, here.

“With the summertime coming, and some of the monsoons will be coming up, this is really a time, a preventative time to get the nets in place before we have these incidences of standing water and… greater numbers of these mosquitos being active at night.”

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