Last Day Living Below The Line

Today is the last day of my Live Below The Line Challenge, and I’d like to thank everyone who has sponsored me to live on £1 a day for 5 days to raise money for Malaria No More. So far I’ve raised £90 through my Live Below The Line fundraising page and Just Giving fundraising page, but it’s not too late if you’d like to donate. Just £1 can save a child’s life from malaria which is preventable and treatable. Just click on the orange coloured links to my fundraising pages to donate quickly and easily.

image002

The challenge has been quite hard as the food I’ve been eating is very dry and boring, without any taste, and I have missed being able to drink tea and snack when I want. However, it’s taught me how hard it is to eat healthily on a very small budget. I couldn’t afford fresh fruit or veg and have mostly been eating rice and pasta. It’s also given me some tips for cooking cheaply when I’m a medical student, which I’m really looking forward to. I hope I’ve inspired others to try this challenge too to raise awareness about people living in extreme poverty around the world.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Money/Pix/pictures/2012/5/11/1336730446501/Live-Below-the-Line-scree-007.jpg

Live Below the Line Challenge for Malaria No More 2014

Tomorrow I’ll be living on £1 a day for all of my food and drink as part of a global challenge, Live Below the Line, to end extreme poverty.

Live below the line

My brother, Joe, caught malaria while we were living in Malawi, but fortunately he recovered after being given the right treatment. I’m doing this challenge so that other children can also receive life-saving treatment for malaria. No parent should lose their child to a disease that is easy to prevent and costs £1 to treat. Malaria is a leading cause of child deaths and poverty in Africa, but together we can make malaria no more. You can sponsor me by donating to Malaria No More here.

This is all of my food for the week, which cost £4.82.

photo-17

I bought a bag of pasta for all my lunches, a bag of rice for my dinners, 2 tins of tomatoes, a tin of tuna, a tin of kidney beans, a tin of sweetcorn, and a packet of mushrooms to mix together with the rice and pasta. I also bought a tin of peaches and a pot of natural yoghurt for puddings and a bar of chocolate, and I shall be having a pitta bread for breakfast with a free egg from our chickens. I’ll only be able to drink water as I didn’t have enough money for tea or milk. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford any fresh fruit as they only sell packs of 5 or 6 which cost too much. I think I’ll have plenty to eat, but it will get pretty boring. At least it’s only for 5 days though…

Live Below The Line Fundraising Challenge 2014

Next week I will be taking part in the Live Below The Line Fundraising Challenge again and I will be living off £1 a day for 5 days to help raise awareness about people around the world living in extreme poverty. This is what I did last year:

live below line receiptlive below the line meal

 

 

 

 

 

I will also be trying to raise money again for my chosen charity, Malaria No More, to try to get more bed nets in places like this hospital in Malawi below: http://www.impatientoptimists.org/~/media/Blog/Other/J/JP%20JZ/545141534656c71c18b2b_jpg_autocropped.jpg

When I lived in Malawi and visited people in hospital there it was very rare to see any mosquito nets, even in the maternity wards. My brother caught malaria while we were living in Malawi, but fortunately he recovered after being given the right treatment. I’m doing this challenge so that other children can also receive life-saving treatment for malaria. No parent should lose their child to a disease that is easy to prevent and only costs £1 to treat.

Malaria is a leading cause of child deaths and poverty in Africa, but together we can make malaria no more. If you would like to donate and help prevent malaria, please visit my Live Below the Line page here.

 

Malaria Vaccine Trial Brings Hope

On Tuesday ITV news announced that a malaria vaccine, developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and trialled in Ghana, has almost halved the number of cases of malaria in children and could be for sale in Africa within a year.

According to ITV, GSK said it is planning to release the drug to market at the reduced price of $5 per vaccine. Although this cost is still expensive for millions across the Sub-Saharan region, it is relatively cheap and a major breakthrough in the fight against this costly, deadly disease.

The trial is one of the biggest ever undertaken and the results show that the vaccine could save millions of lives each year. 15,000 people took part in it, across seven African countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.

Professor Tsiri Agbenyega told Lawrence McGinty, from ITV news that they ‘have reached a “eureka moment” in the development of just such a vaccine – the first in the world against a parasite.’ His hospital in Agogo is one of 11 centres where trials of the malaria vaccine are being carried out.

http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/56137000/jpg/_56137060_56137059.jpg

Although the full results are not yet available, the results are encouraging at this half-way point, as the vaccine nearly halves the number of episodes of malaria in children aged between 17 months and 5 years. For every 1,000 children vaccinated, 941 cases of clinical malaria were prevented over 18 months of follow-up.

 You can read more about it on ITV news here.

Malaria No More’s 2013 Highlights

I’m really proud of the part I have played in the 2013 highlights for Malaria No More, helping to halve the child death rates from malaria. This year I’ve taken part in their Live Below the Line challenge, raising money and awareness about malaria. In April I gave a presentation at Westminster for World Malaria Day, which you can read about by clicking on the link below. Here’s a copy of their letter to me:

Dear Megan,

What a way to end the year! We heard last week from the World Health Organization that child death rates from malaria have been halved since 2000.  This is a truly remarkable achievement and you really have played a part in making this happen.

Here at Malaria No More UK we have pulled together our 2013 highlights  – please take a look by clicking here and see what you’ve helped us to achieve. I’m eager to hear your best bits and have handpicked a few of my own below.

Mary and Martha kicking off the year with a considerable buzz.  The TV film, written by Richard Curtis and inspired by our Special Ambassador Jo Yirrell, powerfully conveyed how no parent anywhere should lose their child to a preventable disease. It moved and influenced many of you along with public and political audiences across the world.  We have just made a five minute film narrated by Jo, telling her own story and her support for Malaria No More UK.  Please do watch and share it here.

The UK pledging a record £1 billion to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. We’ve been working hard to encourage the UK to take a leadership role as a driving force in the global malaria campaign.  This Global Fund pledge has the potential to save a life every three minutes and to deliver 32 million mosquito nets.

Forging and developing exciting partnerships. We’ve been working with a number of committed businesses and their customers – not least GSK’s Panadol and Jack Wills – to help end malaria deaths. The year is ending on a high as we celebrate the fifth year of our partnership with ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and as the staff at Deutsche Bank in the UK prepare to support us as a Charity of the Year for 2014. To everyone in these organisations we offer a heartfelt ‘thank you’.

Celebrating the support of people up and down the UK.  Our donors, fundraisers and awareness raisers across the country have been making an immense contribution.  Whether you have been living on £1 a day for Live Below the Line or donating the funds that save lives, we are so grateful to you.

Supporting a new initiative saving thousands of children’s lives in Northern Nigeria. We are proud to continue funding cutting edge malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment programmes in Africa.  In Nigeria malaria takes a devastating toll. This year we are supporting a life saving new treatment there to protect the most vulnerable young children – and we are continuing to support the eventual elimination of malaria from Namibia.

Take a look here at our 2013 highlights!

With renewed thanks from myself and the team and wishing you a joyful and relaxing Christmas,

I’m a celebrity …. get rid of malaria now!

This weekend I’ll be watching the final of I’M A CELEBRITY, Get Me Out Of Here!
Don’t forget that every time you vote to keep your favourite celebrity in the jungle, you are donating 15p to Malaria No More. It costs less than £1 to provide lifesaving treatment to a child so your support really will make a difference towards a world where no child dies from malaria. 

image from http://news.coral.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/ImaCeleb.jpg

Interview with Dr Robert Newman, MD, MPH, Director of the Global Malaria Programme, World Health Organisation

Recently I asked Dr. Robert Newman, MD, MPH, Director of the Global Malaria Programme at the World Health Organisation, a few questions about malaria.

This is what he said:

Me: Drug and insecticide resistance, lack of global funding, and poor testing and treatment facilities in many infected areas are some of the obstacles to eradicating malaria, but which one gives you most cause for concern?

Robert Newman: While all of these issues are concerning, the greatest threat to continued success in the control and elimination of malaria is financial rather than biological. While there has been a massive increase in international funding for malaria, from less than 200 million USD annually to nearly 2 billion USD today, that total still falls far short of the more 5 billion USD annually that are required to scale up life-saving malaria interventions.

That said, parasite resistance to antimalarial medicines, and mosquito resistance to insecticides are also major threats to success. In the past, the spread of resistance to chloroquine in Africa was responsible for major increases in child mortality on the continent. We now have resistance to artemisinins that has emerged in the greater Mekong Subregion. For the time being, this is restricted to four countries (Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam) but given population movements in Asia and the world, the geographic scope of the problem could widen quickly.

Insecticide resistance has been detected in 64 of the 99 countries with ongoing malaria transmission. This affects all classes of insecticides that are used in malaria vector control, and has had the worst impact on the pyrethroids, which are the only class used on insecticide-treated nets. While vector control tools remain effective in most settings, this issue needs to be addressed urgently to prevent a global resurgence of the disease.

WHO has released global plans on the management of these two biological threats (The Global Plan for Artemisinin Resistance Containment and the Global Plan for Insecticide Resistance Management). If adequate funding were available, both challenges could be fully addressed.

Me: I read recently that the UK has pledged £1 billion over the next 3 years for the Global Fund, which is really good news for the fight against malaria. What do you think is the most positive news in the fight against malaria today?

Robert Newman: The most positive news today is the steady decline in malaria cases and deaths that have occurred over the past decade. The unprecedented scale up of life-saving malaria interventions, including long-lasting insecticidal nets, indoor residual spraying, diagnostic testing, and effective antimalarial treatment (especially with artemisinin-based combination therapies or ACTs as they are known) has resulted in an estimated 26% decline in malaria mortality rates globally, and a 33% decline in the WHO African region.

Malaria interventions saved an estimated 1.1 million lives over the past decade; this is a tremendous achievement. But the gains are fragile, and history shows us just how quickly malaria can resurge if funding is decreased or stopped. A decade of progress can be undone in one or two malaria transmission seasons.

Me: Do you think you will see a world without malaria in your lifetime?

Robert Newman: I do believe that I will see a world without malaria in my lifetime, but this requires a few assumptions to be met:

a) that I have a long life (as I think global malaria eradication is probably 40 years away)

b) that political and financial commitment to control, eliminate, and ultimately eradicate malaria continues

c) that innovative tools continue to be developed that allow us to stay ahead of the mosquito and the parasite, and

d) that overall development continues, especially in Africa.

I am optimistic that these assumptions will be met, and I believe that human beings are capable of amazing things when we dedicate ourselves to solving a challenge and then work together to get there.

I’d like to thank Dr Newman for his generous time in answering these questions for me. I first met Dr. Newman when I went to the APPMG at Westminster to give a presentation about malaria for World Malaria Day in April. This is what he said afterwards: ‘I very much enjoyed meeting you… during the All-Party Parliamentary Malaria Group meeting earlier this year, and I was so impressed with what you said, and the way you delivered it.’

You can read my presentation on the APPMG website here, and read what the other speakers said here.

New vaccine against Malaria

I heard on the radio this morning that trials of a new malaria vaccine in several African countries have shown really positive results. I also read an article in the Guardian which explained that 941 cases of malaria were averted for every 1000 children vaccinated and that the vaccine against malaria could be introduced into some of the world’s worst-hit countries in 2015.

This is really exciting news because malaria is such a huge problem with about 219 million cases worldwide and about 660,000 deaths every year so a vaccine will help to save many lives, along with existing preventions and treatment. This vaccine against malaria has also broken new medical ground as the first vaccine against a parasite, so it could lead to developments against other parasites too.

Latest research on the long-term effects of malaria

Chris Moxon, clinical lecturer at Liverpool University, has just published a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases that shows there may be a link between repeated bouts of malaria in children and a greater likelihood of them becoming ill later in life with other illnesses like cardiovascular disease (read more in this LSTM article).

This is because their blood vessels become inflamed when they have malaria, and they may remain inflamed throughout their life making them leaky and susceptible to blocking with fat. He suggests the possibility of treating the children with statins in the future to help reduce the inflammation, and prevent further disease.

I was particularly interested in this study which was carried out on 190 children in Blantyre, Malawi, because I used to live there, and my brother also caught malaria while we were there.

 

Great news which will save a life every 3 seconds

image from http://resultsuk.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/global-fund-logo.gif

I was really excited to read in the news here that Justine Greening, the international development secretary, has announced that the UK will support the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next three years with a pledge of £1 billion, if the overall target of $15 billion is met from other governments and donors. Barack Obama has promised $1.65 billion for 2014 and Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland have each pledged $750 million. Now, other governments like Australia, Canada and Germany will hopefully follow suit and match the UK’s offer.

If they do, it means that the UK will be able to deliver 32 million mosquito nets with the potential to protect over 64 million people (equivalent to the entire UK population) and save a life every 3 seconds. They will also be able to fund lifesaving anti-retroviral therapy for 750,000 people living with HIV and TB treatment for more than a million people. The Global Fund is estimated to have saved more than 8.7 million lives since it was set up.

I am particularly happy about this announcement as I feel I have played a small part in it myself. Back in March this year, I wrote to my MP asking him to ask Justine Greening to increase Britain’s support for the Global Fund. You can read my letter to him here.

I received a reply here and also an invitation from Jeremy Lefroy to go to Westminster to make a presentation to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (APPMG), which you can read about here.

I am really proud of the part I have played in this news today, and I hope that one day soon there will be no more malaria in the world.

 

Prize Giving

I’m really happy because I found out today that I have been awarded the Nowell History Cup and the Governor’s Award for academic achievement, as well as the Old Edwardian’s Plate for Community Service. The community service award was for all the charity work I’ve been doing for Malaria No More and for my volunteering in childcare and at Katharine House Hospice. It’s really encouraging and has motivated me to carry on doing more.

DFID investment to save millions of lives from malaria and other diseases

Today the UK Government announced an investment into pioneering partnerships to save millions of lives from the world’s most deadly but preventable diseases including malaria.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is investing £138 million over the next five years into nine public-private partnerships to support the development of new drugs, vaccines, insecticides and diagnostic tools to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria, HIV, TB, diarrhoea and other neglected tropical diseases.

image from https://www.concern.net/sites/www.concern.net/files/media/event/dfid-logo.jpg

You can read more about it in a DFID press release here and in Malaria No More’s policy section here. I think it’s really important to continue to develop new technologies to fight these deadly but avoidable diseases. You can support my fundraising for Malaria No More at my Just Giving page here.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Work Experience

This week I travelled down to London on the train and stayed there for a few days, visiting some of my old friends from Malawi. I’d never been by myself before, so it was a really good experience for me to learn how to use the buses and tubes to get around which I really enjoyed. 

A few weeks ago I got in touch with Alan Dangour, the head of nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and organised to spend a day there with him. I arrived this morning and I was amazed by how big the building was and how new and modern it looked inside. I met Alan and he explained a bit about what he does and what happens at the LSHTM. 

I told him I was interested in learning more about malaria so he gave me some malaria research papers and asked me to read through and summarise them. There was a systematic review and meta-analysis about socio-economic development as an intervention against malaria which I thought was really interesting. I went through and highlighted important points, then made a powerpoint presentation about the methods used, their findings and a conclusion. 

It taught me about the way research is carried out and about how to use papers. It was quite confusing to interpret the results at first because I’d never looked at odds ratios before, but I enjoyed learning how to use them. 

Later we watched people give presentations about a few different topics that groups had been researching which were really fascinating. They ranged from smoking, back pain and alcohol to how cycling fatalities are reported on by the media. After lunch I presented the powerpoint which I had put together about how socio-economic development can be an intervention against malaria, and answered some questions about what I’d learned, which was a really good chance to practice my public speaking and communication skills. 

I really enjoyed the whole day; it was such a great opportunity to gain an insight into medical research and into what it’s like to work at the LSHTM, and I’d like to thank Alan for  giving up his time for me.

Live Below the Line Update

Today I received a message from Live Below The Line and the IF campaign, which I supported a few weeks ago. Here is a summary of what they have achieved. Thanks to everyone who supported me with encouragement and money for Malaria No More, my chosen charity.

‘What a 10 days it has been in the fight against extreme poverty.

We began these crucial 10 days with one mission – to make significant progress for the 1 million people around the world who go to bed hungry every night and for the 2 million children who die every year from malnutrition.

We came together as one voice – 200 charities and thousands of campaigners to demand change for the world’s poor. We mobilised 45,000 in Hyde Park, 10,000 in Belfast, inspired 300,000 actions and secured millions of column inches to urge the leaders of the world’s richest countries to take action.

And they did.

  • $4.1bn in new money to tackle malnutrition: The Nutrition for Growth Summit squarely put the issue of nutrition back on the development agenda and delivered a whopping $4.1bn in additional funding.
  • Delivered tax transparency in tax havens: a multilateral agreement signed by all overseas territories and crown dependencies to agree to share tax info with the developing world. Driving down tax avoidance that is keeping poor people poor.

British Prime Minister and chair of the G8, David Cameron remarked “The IF Campaign has helped put tackling hunger and issues that drive it – like malnutrition, tax dodging and land grabs – at the centre of the G8 agenda”.

We’ve achieved something remarkable in the past 6 months as part of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign. I want to thank you for your participation and support.

Live Below the Line was a crucial part of this success. Together we raised issues of extreme poverty in our homes, our workplaces and in the media and together we’ve raised nearly £1m for some brilliant causes.’

I’m really proud to have taken part in this cause, and look forward to hearing more about its effects on global policies in the future.

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.

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.