April 25 is World Malaria Day, which was instituted by the World Health Assembly in May 2007 to highlight the worldwide effort to end malaria death by 2015.

So why should anyone in Arizona care about malaria?

First, malaria is a significant global health issue. Close to half the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria, and more than 750,000 people will die from malaria this year. Ninety percent of these deaths occur in sub-Sahara Africa, with the majority being children under the age of 5. The World Health Organization estimates that one child under 5 dies every minute. That’s more than 1,400 each day.

Next, malaria is a major hindrance to economic development and a leading cause of poverty. In some countries, 40 percent of public health expenditures are related to the prevention and treatment of the disease. The estimated economic impact to Africa is $12 billion every year.

But more importantly, malaria is preventable and curable.

Though no vaccine has yet been developed, the use of insecticide treated bed nets has proven to be an effective and affordable preventative strategy to eliminate death and reduce the economic burden of malaria.

What can you do? Make a donation to buy mosquito nets through organizations such as Malaria No More, www.malarianomore.org, and Nothing But Nets, www.nothingbutnets.net. Ten dollars will provide protection for two people for up to three years. Please save a life today.

Gregory Kerr

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