Malarial mosquitoes more attracted to smell of humans

A study published a few days ago has found that malaria-carrying mosquitoes are more likely to bite humans than mosquitoes which don’t carry the malaria parasite, because they are attracted by our smell.

It is already known that female anopheles mosquitoes are attracted to the chemicals in human body odour, to help them find the blood they need to grow their eggs; but, if they are carrying the malaria parasite, the chance that they will bite humans increases.

James Logan, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and his team of scientists used nylon tights, filled with foot odours, to attract both malarial mosquitoes and ordinary uninfected mosquitoes. They found that the malaria-carrying mosquitoes were three times as likely to try to bite as the uninfected ones. Logan believes that it is the parasite which is changing the way the mosquito behaves, to try to complete its life cycle, which can be deadly for humans.

According to the New Scientist, ‘understanding the mechanisms used by the parasite to change mosquito behaviour could help efforts to predict the spread of the disease. It could also lead to new ways to stop it, such as new types of insect traps.’

James Logan said, ‘We could develop a lure that would target malaria-infected mosquitoes. If that’s possible, we’ll be targeting the most dangerous mosquitoes in the world.’

I think it’s good news that more people are trying to stop malaria spreading, in many different ways. It’s going to take more than one solution to stop this disease.

If you are interested, you can watch an interesting video about it on the BBC News here.

Enough Food For Everyone IF

‘The world produces enough food for everyone, but not everyone has enough food. We can change this in 2013. IF we act together, we can make this year the beginning of the end for global hunger’ – Enough Food For Everyone IF

Today I received an invitation from Live Below The Line to join in the IF campaign, which is a coalition of nearly 200 charities that have come together to demand action from the world’s richest leaders when they meet in the UK in June.

The Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign is organising a ‘rally against hunger’ event in Hyde Park on 8th June with music, activism and a chance to tell those world leaders to make significant progress on the issues of food and hunger.

You can register for the event here now.

IF LAND IS USED FOR FOOD, NOT FUEL

IF’s simple message is put across very well in this youtube video…

Malaria nets are not always effective

In the Lancet medical journal a couple of weeks ago, scientists said that mosquito nets are not effective for people who work or sleep outside at night, in countries where malaria incidents are at a low level. I agree with their findings as, when I was living in Malawi, we had security guards who worked outside our house all night. While we were asleep under our mosquito nets, they were walking around the garden being bitten by mosquitoes, and at risk from malaria.  Many men in the cities in Malawi work as night guards for families and businesses, and they can’t be protected like most people. It is a fact that malaria-carrying mosquitoes are most likely to bite people between 10pm and 5am in the night, so if you sleep under a net your chances of catching malaria are greatly reduced.

image from http://www.todayifoundout.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/mosquito_malaria.png

This BBC news article suggests other ways people could be protected is to treat hammocks or clothing with repellants. I think it is really important to research new ways of preventing malaria, like finding a vaccine or genetically changing mosquitoes, if malaria is ever going to be totally eradicated. Until then, we must make sure governments give the Global Fund enough money to keep providing treated bed nets and quick diagnosis tests for all the vulnerable people living in malarial countries.

The White Queen

Right now, I’m busy revising for my History A/S level on Tuesday. I’ve been studying Britain from 1483 – 1529, about Richard III and the War of the Roses. I really enjoyed reading Philippa Gregory’s novel, The White Queen, which was about Edward IV’s wife, Elizabeth Woodville. The BBC have just started advertising a new 10-part series based on her series of novels, The Cousins’ War, coming soon. You can read more about it here. I can’t wait to watch it but it’s a shame that it wasn’t on earlier!

image from http://jeremyironsno1fan.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/the-white-queen-poster.jpg?w=460

A reflection of my ‘Lessons From Auschwitz’

Recently I went on a visit to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau, with the Holocaust Education Trust. As a part of my ‘Next Steps‘ project, I’d like to raise awareness and educate others about the Holocaust and its consequences. 

Before the Lessons From Auschwitz project, I was really interested in gaining a better understanding of the Holocaust, especially its effects on individuals who were a part of it, and its effects worldwide.

At the Orientation Seminar, it was fascinating to hear about pre-war Jewish life and discover what it was like for different families before they were persecuted. Looking at photos of these individuals had a great impact on me, because I felt I could relate to them, but couldn’t imagine going through the horrors of the Holocaust, which they then went on to face. I was so inspired by Kitty Hart-Moxon’s strength and courage as she told us of the suffering she faced at Auschwitz, and by her determination to educate others. She made it easier for me to imagine what life was really like at the camp after listening to her account.

I wasn’t sure what to expect before visiting the camps, and when we arrived it seemed a bit surreal. As we were walking though the dormitories, it was hard to picture the buildings full of thousands of people. I was really moved when I saw the huge pile of hair. To me, it showed how the victims were treated so callously, and how their individuality was stripped away from them as soon as they entered the camp. Seeing a child’s precious doll, with its head brutally smashed was also very touching. I could imagine the young girl had brought it with her for comfort, yet it had been broken and shattered like all the victims of the Holocaust. Trying to take in the overwhelming scale of Auschwitz was also quite difficult. In the mist it seemed to go on forever.

From my visit to Auschwitz, I’ve learnt a lot about human nature, and about how it’s impossible to place the blame of the Holocaust on a single perpetrator, because we’re all responsible for each other. People such as the train driver, who transported people into the camp, may not have been killing them directly, but still played a part in the Holocaust, as did millions of other ordinary individuals. Kitty said she saw the best and the worst of humanity at Auschwitz, and that she couldn’t have survived without the strong friendships she made. I’ve learnt we all have to look out for each other, and not only tolerate but celebrate differences in society. I aim to spread understanding of what happens when we’re not accepting of these differences, as I’ve seen by visiting Auschwitz. It’s so important to remember the atrocities that took place, to make sure future generations know the consequences of Nazi persecution and of all genocide.

Visiting Auschwitz was a humbling and life-changing experience. I’ve become much more grateful for the society I live in where I have my freedom; as I know that others like me, aren’t so lucky. 

These are a few pages from the photobook I made about my visit to Aushwitz.

auschwitz book 2auschwitz book 4auschwitz book 3

You can view the complete book online here.

Living Below The Line Press Release by Malaria No More

The other day, Malaria No More sent me this press release that they have written about me and Jeremy Lefroy ‘living below the line’. 

Staffordshire MP and sixth form student live below the poverty line on £1 a day to save lives from malaria

7th May 2013: How much change can you make from £1? This is the question that Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Stafford and Megan Owen, a sixth form student, are asking themselves as they live on a budget of £1 a day for all food and drink for five days.

They are taking part in Live Below the Line – an innovative campaign to fight extreme poverty. It challenges the public to get sponsored to cut their spending on food and drink to just £1 a day. This budget is a daily reality for the 1.4 billion people around the world who are forced to live below the poverty line every day, for absolutely everything.

Jeremy and Megan are doing the challenge in support of Malaria No More UK as they have both experienced the devastating impact of the disease while living in Africa. Jeremy caught malaria twice during his 11 years working with smallholder farmers in Tanzania (1989-2000) and Megan’s brother suffered from malaria when her family spent five years in Malawi (2008 -2012).

This experience shaped their personal and professional directions on returning to the UK. For Megan it has fuelled a keen interest in tropical medicine and she hopes to become a doctor. Jeremy, who was elected to Parliament in 2010 and has retained a strong interest in African issues, he sits on the influential International Development Select Committee and Chairs an active All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases. It was in this guise that he invited Megan to speak at a meeting the group organised at the Houses of Parliament to mark World Malaria Day on 25 April. 

Megan says: “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the Houses of Parliament, but I was warmly welcomed by Jeremy, and he asked me to speak first. There were many people attending the event, including MPs and global health experts, and the theme of the evening was the World Malaria Day theme: ‘Invest in The Future: Defeat Malaria’.

Jeremy adds: “It was our privilege to welcome Megan. Her own story takes us beyond the statistics and speaks volumes about the daily impact of malaria in Africa. She saw her brother suffer and mercifully recover from malaria thanks to swift treatment. We want this to be the case for families across Africa. No parent should lose a child to a preventable disease that costs £1 to treat”.

Jeremy and Megan have since pledged to Live Below the Line. The challenge is in its third year in the UK, and growing strong with almost 5000 people registered so far, raising over £400,000 for charities, including Malaria No More UK. The charity works tirelessly to save and protect millions of lives from malaria, a preventable disease that remains a leading killer of young children in Africa.

Jeremy is doing the challenge one day a week due to his parliamentary schedule, with one week down and four left to go. He reflects: “I wanted to take the opportunity to experience life with my choices totally curtailed – the daily reality for 1.4 billion people today. The challenge also gives a timely excuse to raise awareness about a cause close to my heart – malaria. It is unacceptable that this preventable disease still claims the life of a child every minute and we need to do all we can to sustain support to save the lives of the most vulnerable”.

Megan completed her challenge during the Live Below the Line week from 29 April – 3 May. She says: “I was really surprised at how much I could get for my money, although I wish I could have afforded more fresh fruit and vegetables. I missed drinking a cup of tea! But the time goes quickly and it is a great opportunity to raise awareness about malaria – a disease that is, not only caused by poverty, but causes poverty”.

Money raised for Malaria No More UK will be used to help save lives in Africa, where most deaths from malaria take place and where the disease is an ongoing contributor to the cycle of poverty, preventing children from going to school and workers from earning a living.

www.livebelowtheline.org.uk

Climate change could bring malaria to Britain

In this Guardian article, leading health experts are predicting that there is a real risk that malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases could soon be found in the UK. 

Salt marshes used to protect coastal regions and increased flooding, due to global warming, means that the UK is becoming an attractive habitat for mosquitoes.

Health experts, at the annual public health conference of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health this week, are urging governments to “act now before it is too late”, as a growing body of evidence proves that what were once thought of as tropical diseases are being found ever closer to the UK. In 2011, Greece reported a case of malaria.  

Perhaps the threat of malaria in their own back garden will make politicians and scientists put more emphasis on finding a vaccine for this disease which is already killing 1,500 children every day…

image from http://shirtoid.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/malaria-no-more.jpg

My Malaria No More News

I’m really pleased that Malaria No More have published my article about World Malaria Day in their news section on their website.

Click here to find the news article from May 1st.

image from http://malarianomore.org.uk/wp-content/themes/mnm/images/misc/panadol/image.jpg
They have also teamed up with Panadol this month, who will donate 5p to the fight against malaria for every packet of paracetamol sold during May. Panadol have pledged to raise at least £100,000 for Malaria No More’s work. Find out more here.

Lessons from Auschwitz – Next Steps Project

On 13th February 2013, I was selected to go on a one-day visit to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Holocaust Education Trust. The day was very moving and I shall never forget the experience.

As part of my Next Steps Project, my friend and I have compiled a book of our photos, together with testimonies from survivors. We shall present the book to our school in a special assembly, so that we can share our experience and pass on what we have learned. Hopefully, we shall encourage other students and members of our local community to think about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance. 

auschwitz book 2auschwitz book 4auschwitz book 3

You can view my complete photo book online here.

image from http://www.jewishlegacy.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/logo4.jpg

Last Day of Living Below The Line

I’ve nearly finished living below the line for 5 days – just one banana left to eat. I’m really looking forward to eating what I want tomorrow. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, as the rice and pasta was very filling, just a bit boring. It was tough watching my brothers and sister eating ice lollies and nice food though…

Next year, if I do it again, I shan’t bother buying jam or fish paste, as I only had a little bit of jam and didn’t even open the jar of paste. Teabags would be better, if I can afford them. It would definitely be easier to do it with someone else too, as you could share food and have more variety. The extra support would be good too.

Thanks very much to everyone who has donated and supported me, hopefully I’ll reach my target for Malaria No More soon. If you’d still like to donate, please click here, it’s very easy!

image from http://www.thehungerproject.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Live-Below-the-Line-Global-Poverty-Project-for-The-Hunger-Project-UK_Box-288x300.jpg