The Sage Hillel famously challenges us with the questions, “If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Pirkei Avot 1:14). The challenge posed by malaria is an apt reflection issue-wise of these questions, although they become even harder to answer in the context of malaria. This disease, caused a single mosquito bite, is highly deadly and 100% preventable. The urgency to address this global health challenge is even greater when we consider that it impacts some of the world's most vulnerable people. In 2015 alone, 429,000 people around the world died from malaria; 70% of those deaths were among children under five years old. Malaria prevention is possible – we must simply take the steps needed to make prevention tools accessible to those in need.
As we strive to eliminate this disease, preventing malaria infections altogether helps to stop the disease in its tracks. Malaria interventions are extremely effective for preventing infection. Between 2000 and 2015, the use of malaria treatments like the insecticide-treated nets reduced malaria mortality by 62% and global incidence by 41%. This translates into 663 million cases of malaria that were avoided in Sub-Saharan Africa during this time period, thanks to these tools.
In honor of World Malaria Day, which is commemorated on April 25, 2017, we must recommit to closing the prevention gap. We have the knowledge and treatments necessary to eradicate a preventable disease like malaria. World Malaria Day serves as a reminder that we have a duty to help get these treatments in the hands of those who are vulnerable. Since 2007, the RAC has partnered with Nothing But Nets to help distribute insecticide-treated mosquito nets to people in malaria-prone areas. Through this work, we satisfy our obligation to pursue healing, rodef refuah.
On this World Malaria Day, here are some steps you can take:
- Make a donation to Nothing But Nets to provide a life-saving mosquito net
- Share the World Health Organization's World Malaria Day quiz on social media to educate others about malaria
- Urge your Members of Congress to approve robust funding for global health programs, such as the President's Malaria Initiative
To learn more about how you can join the fight against malaria, visit the RAC's malaria issue page. You can also contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Shelby Friedman at 202.387.2800.