We had visited the pediatrician’s in the morning, but during the night, her fever rose to 105 degrees. My wife, Sherrie, and I decided to bundle her into the car, and take her to the well-appointed emergency room of the local hospital, where a team of doctors and nurses had every modern medical tool available to make sure her fever was not life-threatening. Within days, she was back on the climbing frame at the playground – seemingly trying to send herself back to the ER with a broken neck!
We were lucky. Natalie was born in a country with great medical care, unlike hundreds of millions of children around the world.
Leading a nonprofit focused on malaria – one of the top killers of kids around the globe – I spend a lot of time thinking about parents in Africa. There, a child’s fever can mean a long, dark trip to the nearest clinic – if there is one. When there’s not, it often means just praying that your child will be alive to see the dawn.
The symptoms that children with malaria face are strikingly similar to the ones Natalie experienced: fever, chills, headache. But unlike Natalie, too many of these children lack the simple care they need: in Africa, it’s a $10 mosquito net, a 60 cent malaria test, or a life-saving 50 cent treatment.
As we head into the depths of cold and flu season here in the United States, we are reminded of the vulnerability of our own children, and we feel a special kinship with worried parents around the globe.
Happily, today there is reason for all parents to take heart. This morning, the World Health Organization released the 2011 World Malaria Report , which finds that, thanks to an extraordinary international effort, global malaria deaths have dropped by 26 percent since 2000, and even more dramatically – by 33 percent – in Africa. The report showed that 145 million mosquito nets were distributed in 2010: enough to protect almost 300 million mothers and their kids.
Although the global effort is making great strides, there is still so much to do. The report also finds that a child still dies from malaria every minute…and that is something for us all to lose sleep over.
With strong support from moms (and dads) across America and around the world, the fight against malaria can make even more progress in the next five years. A new vaccine promises new hope and new help. The world can end deaths from this terrible disease. We can protect children – and the dreams of their parents – across Africa. But we can’t do it without readers like you.
Take a minute and put yourself in that African mother’s shoes. Consider visiting www.MalariaNoMore.org to find out what you can do, parent-to-parent, to help.