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OP-ED: Ensuring that Malaria is No More
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Bonnie McElveen- Hunter
December 18, 2006

Malaria might be the world’s most underestimated killer. Even though it is a preventable and treatable disease, each year malaria kills more than a million people and makes 300 million around the world very sick. Sadly, malaria takes its heaviest toll among children under five and pregnant women. Malaria literally is robbing the international community of its most precious commodity…its future.

Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, American Red Cross Chairman of the Board of Governors
Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, American Red Cross Chairman of the Board of Governors

While malaria has been successfully eliminated from the United States and many other countries, it remains the most deadly disease in sub-Saharan Africa, home to the most virulent strain of malaria. Malaria is a terrible disease which plagues its victims with fever, headache, and other flu-like symptoms and, if left untreated, can lead to severe anemia, neurological disorders, coma and death. Together, we can…and must…prevent malaria from its needless killing.

On Thursday, Dec. 14, President Bush, along with First Lady Laura Bush, hosted a White House Summit on Malaria to galvanize involvement from the private sector to tackle this devastating global health crisis. A key component in this effort will be “Malaria No More,” a nonprofit network of U.S. and global organizations that supports a comprehensive strategy that includes education, prevention and treatment. The American Red Cross is honored to be one of the founding partners of this vibrant network, and we will be on the front lines battling against malaria.

We have important tools and resources. Long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets repel the mosquitoes, preventing the spread of the disease, and drugs can effectively reverse its course. The American Red Cross has already contributed to the fight against malaria by supporting the delivery of nearly 24 million bed nets in 18 countries primarily in Africa. These efforts have saved the lives of more than 577,000 children.

While we know how to control malaria through the use of drugs, preventative bed nets and by reducing mosquito breeding grounds, in order to sustain this effort we must unite in a common plan of action. At the White House Summit the American Red Cross also announced a new commitment to halt malaria’s deadly toll. Our goal is bold and our partners…the private sector, governments, individuals and non-profit organizations…are deeply committed to ensure that the deadly scourge of malaria is truly…no more.

There is an old African proverb that says: “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” On Thursday, Dec. 14, the American Red Cross and our Malaria No More Partners will unite so that we can tie up the deadly lion of malaria and return the future to the children of Africa. I invite the American people to join us in this noble, necessary work.

Bonnie McElveen-Hunter is the Chairman of the American Red Cross. To learn more about the American Red Cross’s efforts to prevent malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, please visit the “Malaria No More Partnership” page on RedCross.org.

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