By Shaun Walsh of Bispham
I was born and bred in Blackpool and spend part of my year here and the rest of the time living and working in Africa, or in New York.
I used to respond to emergencies around the world as vice-president for the International Relief for Goods for Hungry International.
I am now executive director of NetsforLife the flagship programme for a USA-based organisation called Episcopal Relief and Development.
I have overseen the programme for four years, and it works in 17 countries in Africa to eliminate malaria.
Today, April 25, is World Malaria Day.
In New York, a reception is being held to recognise the achievements of our programme, and next week I will be in London at a reception held by Standard Chartered Bank, one of our key supporters/partners, to celebrate the fact we have delivered seven million LLITN (long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets) in Africa 22 months, ahead of schedule.
While AIDS/HIV is perceived as a greater risk, about 3.3 billion people – half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria.
In 2010, there were around 216 million malaria cases and an estimated 655,000 malaria deaths. Increased prevention and control measures have led to a reduction in malaria mortality rates by more than 25 per cent globally since 2000, and by 33 per cent in the African region.
People living in the poorest countries are most vulnerable to malaria. In 2010, 90 per cent of all malaria deaths occurred in the African region, mostly among children under five years.
Since 2006, NetsforLife has saved the lives of 103,780 children under five.
We saved the lives of 17,407 last year alone. That is my biggest satisfaction. Some 73,000 malaria control agents have been trained.
Across the programme, malaria-related deaths have reduced, on average, by 45 per cent.
Eighty five per cent of households have at least two LLITNs in our communities. On average, almost 92 per cent of people on our programme know the causes of malaria.
We have changed distribution policy in Angola, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Zambia, to households, rather than fixed point net distribution.
Discussions that could change national policy this year are occurring in Kenya and Malawi
We expect to distribute several million more nets by the end of the year. Please support us by visiting www.netsforlifeafrica.org.