Malaria: Big problem, some simple solutions

Girls sleeping under mosquito net

I love how simple actions can prevent big hairy problems… like malaria.

According to the World Health Organization, malaria claims the lives of 660,000 people annually; most of those deaths are babies in Africa. Today is World Malaria Day, when we remember that half of the world’s population lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission.

In several African countries, like Mozambique, Food for the Hungry (FH) trains mothers on how to identify malaria to prevent their children from dying. FH teaches very simple and inexpensive ways to prevent the disease. Here is how families are putting life-saving measures into action:

  • Urge families to identify places near their home where mosquitoes can breed. There are some species of malaria mosquitoes that will breed in a pool of water as small and shallow as a horse’s hoof print. In some areas where FH works, families collect water in large barrels from delivery trucks. Water can also be collected from rainfall or a spring into large holding tanks. If the barrels or holding tanks are uncovered, mosquitoes can breed in the water. FH helps people understand the importance of eliminating standing water when possible, and covering water storage containers.
  • Help parents recognize the signs of malaria in a young child. FH’s care groups teach mothers how to perform basic exams on sick children, to determine if they need medical care. And mothers are also taught to watch for high fever and other signs that their children might have malaria.
  • Encourage the use of mosquito nets. In some instances, FH will distribute nets, but in others, FH helps families make connections with free or low-cost net distributions. When parents join FH’s savings groups, which help them learn how to save and invest their earnings, they have extra cash to help with medical-related expenses like mosquito nets.
  • Building relationships with clinics. If preventative measures fail, then parents must take their child to a clinic for malaria medication. FH helps communities create  health clinic and hospital networks where parents can find affordable health care for their children.

If this topic interests you and you want to immerse yourself in a fascinating book about the fight against malaria, I recommend Sonia Shah’s The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years.

If you want to make a difference, please pray for moms to have access to mosquito nets and clinics. You can also donate toward FH’s mosquito net distribution efforts. And pray that more people will learn these simple actions to save a child from malaria.

About Beth Allen

I'm a self-professed sustainable development geek who would have a very hard time picking a favorite country. That means, I love every tribe and nation and take great joy in seeing how God is working in the world. I've been with FH for nearly two decades, and started out by serving with them in the Bolivian Andes. I can't live without Jesus and coffee, but the coffee is mostly decaf so the power is from Jesus.

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