Malaria has been a burden on the global population for decades and yet, there is a lot of white noise surrounding the ‘golden nugget’ which could, solve the malaria mortality rate without much empirical action. The bottom line is, more needs to be done and we cannot and mustn’t, continue to rely on celebrities with kind hearts and bulging wallets.
Everybody knows that life is unfair. With today being World Malaria Day in Paris we have a fantastic opportunity for the global community to turn over a new leaf and address the malaria problem head on.
Sadly, the world in which we live means that lives are not of equal value. When well-known celebrities such as Cheryl Cole contracted malaria the outpouring of sympathy and ‘armchair love’ was astounding. However, the elephant in the room is simple, Africa carries 90% of the malaria burden and does not receive the same care and attention.
The unwritten truth is that celebrity status puts certain individuals’ health on a pedestal. Cheryl’s poor health gained more column inches than all of the 435,000 malaria deaths in 2017 put together. In 2017 alone, 219 million people contracted malaria.
The hands on approach from Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates is admirable, noble and welcome. But, in simple terms governments tend to shy away from the global issue because they know celebrities with status will pick up the ball. As of 2018, it was announced that The Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation has donated 1 billion dollars. So, when The Global Fund donates 14 million dollars, in the cold light of day it looks a little half-hearted and feeble.
However, money is not the answer. After all, if all your problems could be solved by money you wouldn’t have many problems at all.
Five countries, including Nigeria and Mozambique, among others account for nearly 50% of all malaria deaths. Shocking statistics such as this cannot be rectified by individual sovereign states. The truth is that there needs to be more of a concerted effort made. It is far too easy to rely on the American government bodies like Presidential Malaria Initiative (PMI) and US Aid, due to the size of the United States GDP.
The Pressure Cooker of Social Media
The growth of social media has the potential to offer a mass united front and voice. The use of hashtags which correlate to this year’s theme #ZeroMalariaStartsWithMe, can only demonstrate its true power if we are actually getting closer to eradication. Which, lets be honest, has to be the ultimate goal and aim.
When we look at the Notre Dame Fire just last week, one billion euros was raised in a matter of days. However, malaria can only dream of receiving this fanfare and attention. As a global community we must start asking probing, uncomfortable questions about what we are prepared to crowdfund and, what we are not.
The Malaria Free Future?
Actions speak louder than words. It is great to see innovation from business minded people developing vaccines and saliva-based malaria tests like ERADA Technology Alliance, are vital if we are going to create a #MalariaFreeWorld. But, we need governments to financially support conferences.
Rather than money being spent to fly delegates to every corner of the globe, maybe we should take a leaf out of Bill Gates’ book and collaborate in real terms to try and produce a malaria free world ASAP.
By Harvey Isaac | Public Relations Account Executive