Why I'm in Zambia with Malaria No MoreJennifer James
Tonight as I sit on my hotel room’s balcony during the African summer under a bright full moon I am reflecting on my week here in Zambia that has taken me to the country’s industrial Copperbelt region to urban centers to rural outposts in the outlying areas of Lusaka province. Since being in Zambia I have taken a deep dive into malaria education as a guest of Malaria No More, an international NGO boldly dedicated to malaria eradication. My key takeaway: Malaria affects everyone who lives here in some way, particularly children under five, who are highly susceptible to contracting the disease due to their weak immune systems. Malaria remains one of the leading causes of death for children in the developing world behind pneumonia, diarrhea, and preterm birth. Malaria is a fact of life in Zambia and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa where 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur. What’s changing, however, is how the Zambian government and its key partners are taking the malaria challenge head on and saving children’s lives.
As a partner in the malaria fight with the Zambian government, Malaria No More recently launched Power of One, a robust digital movement that marries the digital prowess and generosity of the global community with the urgent need to provide tools to prevent children from dying from malaria. Power of One officially launched in September in the United States and is slated for a European rollout in the coming months.
The concept behind Power of One is quite simple. With a mere $1 dollar donation, one child will receive diagnosis and treatment for malaria. When properly diagnosed and treated a child can survive malaria, a wholly preventable disease. If left untreated most children tragically die from malaria. The goal of Power of One is to raise enough funds from the public to provide three million malaria tests and treatments for Zambia where there is a current treatment gap.
In sub-Saharan Africa where most malaria cases and deaths occur as aforementioned, millions of African children are at risk of contracting malaria and dying from it. In fact, 660,000 people die from malaria every year most of whom are children under five. All it takes is the tiny, yet deadly anopheles mosquito and the right host to spread malaria to children and adults. In large part, adults are better able to fend off malaria despite its debilitating nature and horrifically painful side effects. Children, however, can’t fight malaria without proper diagnosis and treatment. And when children live in poverty settings and are malnourished their chances of surviving malaria become even slimmer.
At the Power of One launch celebration that took place on a sunny Thursday at the Waterfalls community clinic in Lusaka province I met Mavis Tembo, 18, who was there for its mosquito net distribution. Her son, Given, who is only five months old has already had malaria. “He started coughing and he had the flu, sort of,” Tembo said. “I came here. They gave him treatment. He was better in one week.”
The one-two punch that effectively knocks out malaria in children (testing and treatment) is possible through Power of One’s primary partners: Novartis, the leading provider of malaria treatments and Alere, the leading manufacturer of rapid diagnostic tests. Novartis has provided malaria treatments to Africa, Asia, and Latin America without profit since 2001. Through its partnership with Power of One, Novartis has pledged to donate three million full courses of pediatric malaria treatments over the next three years. And Alere is donating two million rapid diagnostic tests in order for malaria to be accurately diagnosed in children.
Over the coming days I will be sharing more about what I learned about malaria in Zambia this week with Malaria No More. Next up, I’ll tell you why I was geeking out in a medical supply warehouse in Lusaka.
Feel like saving a life today? You can. Donate $1 to Power of One and a child will be diagnosed and treated for malaria. It’s that simple.