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The newly published result of an experimental malaria vaccine is a remarkable milestone in the combat against this disease. As the first large-scale malaria vaccine study conducted across seven African countries, it has shown a potential to ‘halve malaria in young children’. With continued efforts to develop vaccines and funding for the implementation of other preventive measures, we can win the fight against malaria.
This is great news to come as we embark on our 1.4 Billion Reasons University Tour in the UK in partnership with Malaria No More UK.
Monday 10th October marked the launch of the four-month journey in which we will travel across the UK to empower university students with the knowledge and political tools to tackle the multidimensional issues of extreme poverty.
As always, the presentation is focused around five key sections that help create a deeper understanding of the issues and what we can each do in our own lives to make a difference.
• What is extreme poverty?
• Can we do anything about it?
• What are the barriers to ending extreme poverty?
• Why should we care?
• What can I do?
While exploring each of these important questions, this series of presentations focuses particularly on the integral link between global poverty and malaria; analysing the disease as a cause and perpetuator of chronic poverty, and an overall hindrance to economic growth and progress. There are still more than 225 million cases of this preventable disease each year, of which 90% of the fatalities occur in young children in Africa.
However, at the heart of the presentation is the inspirational notion of empowerment: that with the right tools, awareness and support, we can all see to it that malaria cases and deaths are reduced and extreme poverty ends within our generation. Support for programmes like those funded by Malaria No More UK helped save 485 African children’s lives every day in 2010, and by increasing funding for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and
Malaria, many more can be saved in 2012.
The 1.4 Billion Reasons University Tour seeks to serve as the impetus for more than just a presentation on extreme poverty, but instead a student-led social movement advocating for a holistic approach to development aims. Catering our presentation to social clubs, campus societies, departmental programmes, and course seminars, we aim to make the issue of extreme global poverty relevant to everyone- regardless of their background or career path. In the 3 minutes it took you to read this post, two children have already lost their lives to malaria. It is time to take collective action.
Click here to attend one of our upcoming university events and here to book a presentation at your university. After all, this isn’t a campaign. It is a movement. And it begins with you.
As part of our focus on health and poverty this month, we look at another amazing video by The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – who work to combat these diseases across the world. The Global Fund contributes 2/3 of the international funding to fight TB and Malaria and almost a quarter of all money to fight AIDS worldwide – making their work vital to increasing the capacity of communities in developing countries across the world, by stopping preventable disease and allowing individuals to live enriching lives free from disease.
Their work is huge with thousands of volunteers and health workers in more than 150 countries who are able to save one million people every single year, making ending the gap in funding for global health even more important. That’s 3,600 lives every day – lives that keep breathing, keep living and achieving great things because of vaccinations, bed nets, HIV testing, advice, research and global outreach to developing communities most at risk from these three diseases.
Together with our partners Malaria No More UK, we are supporting the Global Fund’s One Million Lives campaign to fight malaria; a disease that causes around 225 million illnesses and 781,000 deaths every year, and cripples the economies of developing countries.
Malaria is preventable, but it kills a child every 90 seconds, or about half the time it takes to read one of our blogs. The Global Fund provide crucial grants to projects that help tackle these diseases, like the Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria, working with the Roll Back Malaria partnership and DFID to make the most effective combination of Malaria treatment drugs (ATC’s) available to developing countries by lowering prices, subsidising procurement and eliminating the bridge between buyers and pharmaceuticals.
As the video shows so well, this is a fight we can win. With the right funding the Global Fund can use the support from everyday people – like you and me – to make miracles happen.
With the right funding the Global Fund and others can make sure that all children in the world are born HIV free by 2015, and by 2020 we can eliminate malaria. We have the medicines, skills and awareness to help end these diseases... and we have the manpower too. We know that small things can make big changes, like expanding the provision of malaria nets or providing basic skin tests for TB among high risk communities.
The work of the Global Fund is crucial for helping targeted projects and healthcare reaching the most vulnerable communities. Diseases like Malaria and HIV are entrenched in the complex cycle of poverty across the world and developing communities are often at the highest risk of live threatening illnesses whilst receiving the least access to treatment. Preventative measures are a key way in which the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and others are able to stem this tide, by co-ordinating immunisations, outreach of vaccines and awareness programs but they urgently require funding.
In Spring of next year, governments are getting together to decide how much more money to give the Global Fund. Now is the time for donors to step up and declare they will ‘Fund the Fund’.
Together with Malaria No More UK, we are asking you to sign our petition asking the British Government to double what it gives to The Global Fund. We need to make sure they’re doing all they can to save lives - by setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.
If the Global Fund has the extra money it needs, it will get us a long way towards saving 3 million children’s lives from malaria by 2015. Not to mention the millions more that will be helped by the Global Fund’s work on TB and HIV, so please add your name to the petition.
As the first part of our malaria blog series, Elisha London, the UK Country Director at the Global Poverty Project, reflects on her encounter with this disease and the challenge it entails for our generation.
There’s an old African proverb that says “if you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito”. At 2am on 26 September 2008 as I lay awake with a high fever and severe pain, this saying came to life. A disease that affects nearly half of the world’s population had made it’s way through the humble mosquito to me. Malaria.
For me malaria was an unpleasant experience, but not a life-threatening one. However, for millions of people the story is very different.
The truth is for individuals, communities and nations…malaria sucks.
For individuals, malaria can be deadly. Over 1,800 children loose their life to malaria every day, that is one every 45 seconds. And, if it doesn’t kill, it has an impact on many other aspects of life. It causes brain damage, keeps children and teachers from going to school, and can cause miscarriage, child mortality and complications in women’s health.
Poor communities are hit hardest, as they often cannot afford prevention and treatment tools such as bed nets and medicines. Once malaria spreads, it can cost communities significant loss of life, drain resources and put the most vulnerable - pregnant women and children - at risk.
For nations, it is costly. Imagine if you had to take one week out of work many times a year. Not only is the personal loss of wages substantial, but malaria is estimated to cost developing countries up to 1.3% of GDP in lost economic productivity. Further, it drains already stretched public health budgets with up to 40% of entire budgets directed to malaria in some countries worst affected. Altogether the impact of malaria costs Africa alone $8 billion a year.
Malaria may suck, but it doesn’t have to kill.
I was fortunate enough to be driven to the local Ugandan hospital on a boda-boda (Ugandan motorcycle … a rather painful ride after those injections!), and be able to pay for medicine. This immediate treatment, coupled with the counter-active impact of anti-malarial tablets I had been taking meant that the severity of the disease was reduced. Within a couple of days I was back on my feet.
Providing people with mosquito nets and early, accurate testing is cheap and effective. Ethiopia, Rwanda and Eritrea have reduced malaria deaths by over 50% over the last ten years by using bed nets, sprays and medicines. What we need to do now is scale up these successes. One framework of how this can be achieved is represented in the Global Malaria Action Plan. This plan was created in 2008 to:
Achieve universal coverage for the prevention of malaria in all areas at risk of the disease
Reduce global malaria cases from 2000 levels by 75% in 2015
Reduce global malaria deaths from 2000 levels to near zero preventable deaths in 2015
Eliminate malaria in 8-10 countries by 2015
In the long term, eradicate malaria world-wide by reducing the global incidence to zero through progressive elimination in countries
Ultimately what we need to see is a world without malaria.
This is a long-term, achievable challenge for our generation. We need to commit to this so the world’s poorest are not kept in extreme poverty by the impact of the disease, and we need to remember that until we do, no one is immune. The story of Harry Yirrell, the 20 year old British gap year student who lost his life to malaria in 2005 reminds me of this, and I’m inspired by the ongoing campaigning of his mother to raise awareness and funds for the disease.
To achieve the Global Malaria Action Plan a global partnership of sustained coordinated efforts of control, elimination and research is required, enabled by an increase in global funding.
As the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria represents two-thirds of international malaria funding, we at the Global Poverty Project are pleased to be partnering with Malaria No More UK to call for this funding to the Global Fund to be doubled when governments meet in 2012 to decide how much it should receive. If the Global Fund has the funding it needs, it will save millions of lives from malaria, not to mention more will be helped by the Global Fund’s work on TB and HIV. If you would like to join us in this call to ‘Fund the Fund’ you can clickhere.
I don’t think about what would have happened if I hadn’t received immediate medical attention. What I do think about is how thankful I am that that this disease is preventable, and that millions already have access to treatment, just as I did.
What we now need to do is make sure this is available for everyone, and commit to do everything we can to see a world without malaria. Will you join us?
Ralph Fiennes plays an English diplomat who is sent to work in Kenya, Africa. His wife, played by Rachel Weisz is a human rights activist and determined campaigner for justice... murdered when she stumbles quite accidentally upon a political scandal and decides to make it her mission to bring this to light.
It’s the story of The Constant Gardener – a film that combines the adventure chase format with some uncomfortable questions about western companies operating in Africa.
The film begins when a large pharmaceutical company is found to be testing a new drug for people suffering from tuberculosis. Using the most vulnerable communities in Kenya as test subjects, it follows a scandal to the highest levels of the British government when side effects and consent are ignored and Fiennes wife, a dedicated health worker is murdered because of what she knows.
Filmed largely within the slums of Kibera and Loiyangalali, the communities where she works are desperate for medical care and vulnerable within their society - making them easy prey to big corporates like the pharmaceutical giant featuring in the story. It is suggested that the government of Kenya would have been bribed in order to agree to these trials. The story highlights that this type of testing can be beneficial to drugs companies as it saves them time developing a secure formula for a drug early on, they can simply fly the drug overseas, test it, manipulate the findings of the trials (by excluding those who have suffered negative side effects) and sell the drug on to the Western world at a later stage when the testing is complete.
These huge and powerful organisations are highly unlikely to face legal action from those trialling the medication as these people can often not afford lawyers, are less likely to given an understanding of their rights and are deemed as easily expendable.
The Constant Gardener focuses on how the courage and determination of a number of people to uncover the truth and publicise these immoral and illegal drugs trials can raise awareness of the sacrifices made for our medication in the West.
The plot isn’t directly based on a true story... but derives its message from a number of similar real-life cases of pharmaceutical companies trialling products on people living in the third world. In one case in 1996, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer apparently gave children in Nigeria a new and untested drug called ‘Trovan’ which aimed to treat meningitis when the disease quickly became wide-spread in that part of the continent. Allegations were made that these children suffered from long-term joint pain believed to have been a result of the drug they were given - which were swiftly denied.
Interights are one organisation that works to protect the importance of human rights by strengthening partnerships and transparency in regional and legal entities across the globe – making human rights accessible in developing countries where they are often overlooked. You can also support Transparency International who work to tackle corruption across the globe by making governments and businesses more open, monitor resource trade and advocate for greater accountability. The Constant Gardener was released in 2005 and is available on DVD.
Following our recent article, 7 Billion – We ask, do the numbers matter?, We take another look at the run up to the global population hitting 7 billion people in October– and get very excited about some of the fantastic images from our friends at National Geographic. They even provide a video by graphic designer Nigel Holmes showing just how much space 7 billion people would need to hold a party – You might just be surprised!
National Geographic maps the areas with the highest population density – sorted by Gross National Income (GNI) per country. The bright areas are the most crowded – they are also home to some of the world’s poorest communities.
7 billion is a lot of people.It is 1,500 times the number of people in Sydney (almost 2000 times the number in Melbourne), 113 times the number of people in the whole of the UK and 23 times the entire population of the United States... but only four times the number of cans of Coca Cola sold worldwide in a single day.
The population is growing at around 77 million people every year – that’s 4 people born every second. Every day, 40,000 of them are Chinese, 36,000 of them are Indian and 8,000 of them are American.
Wondering what the face of 7 billion people would look like, based on current growth? Look no further, as the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing has the answer – and it only took them 7,000 photos to make:
As I already mentioned, a space of 1500 square miles can hold all 7 billion of us. In fact, the population of Earth could happily fit into the tiny islands of Polynesia, and if we wanted to bring a small house, a couple of animals and a small space to grow some vegetables, we could all fit a in a country the size of Spain, or Germany.
..But what about food? There wouldn’t be room for the 518 million sheep, 1.3 billion pigs or 52 billion chickens we currently eat every year. But don’t panic! If current food sources were distributed fairly, the world could happily feed every single person more than 2,700 calories a day for the near future – enough for an adult male who exercises regularly.
So, where’s the catch?
Ok, I confess. There is room and food for everyone – but only if we use it properly. That doesn’t mean we should panic – it means that we must work hard now to make things more equal. If we do this, and focus on key motivators such as universal education and environmental security, we can eradicate poverty in a generation. We can eradicate poverty before the population hits 10 billion around 2050.
As a species, we not only place a serious burden on the environment, our water supplies and other life, but we shoulder the blame un-evenly.
Countries in the developed north control access to the global market that determines whether 800 million malnourished individuals eat or die – and they control the subsidies and market competition that prevents another 1.4billion people from producing and selling enough food to protect their future, their children and their family’s future.
Developed countries are less densely populated and are having less children, they have access to schooling and other forms of knowledge, have the option of travelling and tend to live in cities - where they are less vulnerable to environmental pressures and have better access to healthcare. The most developed countries only make up 28% of the world's population (see above) –while 2.6 billion people do not have access to even the most basic toilet.
This is not the case everywhere and poverty is declining. Inequality, in markets and access to basic human needs must be addressed and the rising population must inspire us to do what we can, and be excited about it – buying ethically, understanding poverty and getting involved.