Topic category: Other/General
Fast to Stop Malaria and Save Lives
International fast day to focus attention on the billions of people at risk from malaria
With a growing sense of urgency, world leaders in the fight against malaria have called for an International Fast day Against Malaria, to focus attention on the emergency facing billions of people who live in malaria-infested regions around the world.
Participating organizations include the Malaria Foundation, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Dunk Malaria, Africa Fighting Malaria, Hedge Funds vs. Malaria, Be the Cause, the Free Africa Foundation, World Swim Against Malaria, UN Foundation, and Foundation for Democracy in Africa. All are involved in many facets of malaria education and prevention.
The International Fast Against Malaria (IFAM) will be held on May 11, 2006. Adults all over the world are asked to fast from 9:00am until 6:00pm (drinks and medications are allowed). Children are asked to fast from 9:00am until 12:01pm. Every dollar of donations from the fast will go to buy life-saving, long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets. To participate in the fast and or sponsor your fast or the fast of others please visit www.worldswimformalaria.com/ifam.
Between one and three million people, 90% of them children under the age of five, die from malaria each year, even though this killer disease is preventable. "We are asking so little – with the hope that many will embrace our call to action," said Mary Galinski, president of the Malaria Foundation International (www.malaria.org).
"The first International Fast day Against Malaria is a gift to all, a chance to recognize the plight of millions of children suffering and dying from malaria each year, and at the same time a day to be thankful that many countries have been freed from malaria,” she continued. “With increased awareness, many more parts of the world will soon be freed from the disease."
"The World swim for Malaria is proud to be the operating partner of the International Fast Day Against Malaria," noted Rob Mather, founder of the World Swim for Malaria. "This will hopefully be a significant step in protecting children and their families where malaria is the biggest killer of children and a leading cause of death among mothers. We are proud to be leveraging our technological and distribution infrastructure to try and save as many lives as possible."
Africa will be dominant recipient of nets, as 90% of malaria deaths occur there. However, organizers hope many other malaria-endemic countries will also benefit, including those in Asia and Latin America.
Cyril Boynes, Jr., director of international relations for CORE, acknowledged the value of bed nets. However, education, better housing, improved sanitation and especially insecticides are also essential, he emphasized. “And the health ministers of affected countries must have the right to determine which weapons are necessary and appropriate in each situation,” he added.
“Last Christmas, I went back to a Ugandan school that my wife and I help to sponsor, and learned that 50 of its 500 young students had died from malaria in just 12 months,” Boynes said. “We were devastated. My wife is from Uganda, and she’s lost her son, two sisters and three nephews to malaria. This unnecessary and unconscionable tragedy has got to end.
“That’s why I support the fast and the Kill Malarial Mosquitoes NOW! campaign, which has been endorsed by hundreds of health experts, clergy and human rights advocates all over the world,” he added. (see www.FightingMalaria.org)
An African proverb says “It takes a village to raise a child,” noted Dr. George Ayittey, the distinguished economist whose Free Africa Foundation is working to establish malaria free zones in villages throughout Africa. “Well, it takes a global village to fight malaria.”
“Sacrificing food and nutrients for a 24 hour period doesn’t come close to living in fear of a deadly disease on a daily basis,” said Kevin Starace, Children’s Health Officer for the United Nations Foundation. “But it does help awaken people to the disease and poverty that overwhelm so many people around the world. This is my conscious decision, as a fortunate person, to do this for malaria. But billions of people don’t have any choice.”
Dr. Ken Shubin Stein, one of the leaders of Hedge Funds vs. Malaria and a co-founder of the International Fast Against Malaria said: "The world needs to recognize malaria for the emergency it is. Therefore, we in the hedge fund community are determined to do whatever it is we can do, to stop the needless suffering of children and adults who are afflicted by this disease."
"At the United Nations we are very excited by our partnership with the New York Knicks and the Hedge Funds vs. Malaria 'Dunk Malaria' initiative. The Fast day is another big step in mobilizing against this deadly disease," said Dr. Djibril Diallo, director of the UN New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace. "This initiative to help overcome malaria also strengthens global efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015."
Stacey Blaschke, who runs Be the Cause, wrote: “I am joining this fast in solidarity with others who find it unacceptable that a child dies of a preventable disease every 30 seconds, and who want to aid in eradicating this worldwide killer.”
Lance Laifer, the founder of Hedge Funds vs. Malaria and Dunk Malaria, added that the fast day was chosen to commemorate the birth date of Sir Ronald Ross, who in the late 19th century discovered the life-cycle of malaria parasites in mosquitoes. This was a crucial step in understanding that mosquitoes are the culprits in malaria transmission. Ross’s birthday is actually May 13, a Saturday this year. However, since many people are not allowed to fast on Saturday for religious reasons, the IFAM event was moved to May 11.
Mr. Laifer also noted the proximity of May 11 to Mother’s Day (May 14). Malaria is one of the world's largest killers of mothers, particularly first-time mothers, he pointed out. In Africa, this disease is the biggest single killer of children and leaves many mothers grieving over the loss of their infants and young children.
For more information please visit www.worldswimformalaria.com/ifam or contact Lance Laifer at 203-899-0657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biography - Paul Driessen
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of many articles on energy and the environment. He has degrees in sciences and environmental law.