A disease by any other name
Malaria is not a sexy disease. Clearly Malaria is not sexy in terms of what it does and the lives it takes but I don’t mean ‘sexy’ in that way; I mean sexy as in ‘on trend’, ‘popular’, ‘topic of the day’. Malaria is a disease that travellers and NGO workers daily pop tablets to prevent, it is a disease that still robs thousands of their lives every year in some of the world’s poorest countries, it is a disease that economists estimate costs the African continent around t $12 billion in lost productivity annually*. Malaria is still one of the world’s biggest killers, but it just isn’t spoken about all that much.
While working for NGOs for the past few years as a photographer and communicator I have come to realise that topics of interest seem to move in trends. One year it might be climate change, another maternal health. These trends come and go as though the international development industry (and it is an industry) is some kind of hormonal teenager forever developing a new crush. 2014’s hot topic was Ebola, and this was certainly an issue I care deeply about as someone who was living in Sierra Leone until July. A friend asked me today whether Ebola was still in West Africa as she had not seen any news on it in a while – that is because 2015 is not interested in Ebola. The issue has dropped off our development consumer lists.
I cannot remember when Malaria was last on our development ‘hot topics’ list. I suspect a while ago. The problem with Malaria is that it is a slow-burn disaster, it has been around too long now. Despite huge reductions in global deaths from the disease it is still there causing daily havoc in vulnerable lives across the world. Ahead of March 25th, World Malaria Day, I have decided to stray somewhat from my normal blogging fare and instead offer some good reading and viewing to get Malaria back on the hot topics list. I have had friends in Sierra Leone and Uganda who have been seriously ill as a result of this disease (I thank God I have never actually lost a friend to Malaria but sadly this may only be a matter of time), I have heard so many stories from around the world about the chaos Malaria causes and I personally love the fact that if we all worked together as a world on this issue we could completely eliminate Malaria. Lets make Malaria ‘sexy’ again so we can put an end to it once and for all:
- Malaria in the time of Ebola – great little article from One.
I am with Mallam Nasiru Abdullai from Ghana – sleep under a net! Find out more about Malaria No More