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By: Margaret Reilly McDonnell,  Alison Oliveira Wheeler

Fighting Malaria On the Frontlines this World Malaria Day

April 25, 2021

The past year has been extremely challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended all our lives, causing suffering and economic devastation around the world. This global health crisis has made our work to fight malaria even more critical, as studies estimate that disruptions caused by COVID-19 could increase malaria deaths by as much as one-third over the next five years. 

COVID-19 has shone a glaring spotlight on the ugly inequities in access to healthcare. In our country and around the world, we have seen that people with less fare worse. Like COVID-19, malaria is a disease that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable. Malaria–a treatable, preventable disease– has been eliminated in the world’s wealthiest countries but remains a significant threat for people living in Africa and parts of Latin America and Asia. As World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized during our recent Leadership Summit: “Together, we must make sure that health is not a luxury but a fundamental human right and the cornerstone of the safer, fairer and more sustainable world we all want.” 

This World Malaria Day, our response to the world’s newest pandemic must also help us defeat one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases. The danger of jeopardizing the incredible gains we have made against this disease has inspired us to focus our outreach this year on the frontlines of malaria. Heroic health workers on the frontlines are vital to delivering quality care to those who need it most. These dedicated workers need training, tools, and support. This year, we are working with partners on the frontlines of malaria in Nigeria’s remote, conflict-ridden Borno State, part of our commitment to bring lifesaving malaria interventions to the last mile. Malaria causes one-third of the deaths in this community, where more than 7 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian aid. 

In the face of these challenges, this World Malaria Day we celebrate the power of people coming together in this fight. We are so proud of what our network of partners, donors, corporate supporters, and Champions have achieved. 

  • In 2020, we provided 240,750 anti-malarial treatments, 74,000 insecticide-treated bed nets, and 36,000 rapid diagnostic tests. 
  • We are working to protect 400,000 residents of Borno State with indoor residual spraying to stop malaria and other vector-borne diseases.
  • Working in partnership, we will help distribute 1,000-plus disinfection kits to protect frontline health workers from COVID-19 and other diseases in Borno State.
  • Our recent Leadership Summit virtually brought together and transported hundreds of attendees from 43 U.S. states (+ DC and Puerto Rico) and 40 countries around the world to the malaria frontlines through our new StoryMap: https://bit.ly/3x5SjgE.  
  • We held a record-breaking 154 meetings with members of Congress this past week to advocate for continued U.S. leadership and funding in the fight against malaria.

There is hope in this fight. Together, the global community has made incredible progress over the last two decades, saving 7.6 million lives, reducing malaria cases by 40 percent, and reducing deaths by 60 percent. 

The pandemic has forced everyone, everywhere–not just at-risk communities in developing nations–to experience life under threat of a disruptive, lethal disease. 

People in malaria endemic regions face this danger every day. 

The world knows how to defeat malaria everywhere for good.

Now, we need the will. 

This World Malaria Day, join us #OntheFrontlines. 

Additional World Malaria Day Resources from Our Colleagues & Partners
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