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.

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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…

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.

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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.

From 2013 to 2014…

2014 is a big year for me; I have my A Levels, I’ll be turning 18, learning to drive and hopefully I’ll be off to medical school. But first I want to reflect on 2013, and some of the things I got up to on my journey to medical school…

I had great fun at Medlink in January, starting the year meeting like-minded people and experiencing university life. I came home even more motivated to study medicine and so I began to write this blog, which you can also follow here.

In February I was selected to visit Auschwitz with the Holocaust Education Trust. It was such a memorable and interesting but moving trip, which made me realise how important it is to always act with integrity.

I also travelled down to Southampton for a week to shadow a consultant Cardiologist. I really enjoyed experiencing day-to-day life in a hospital, and it was interesting to compare it to my work experience in a hospital in Malawi. I saw how much teamwork is involved and the variety medicine brings every day, but  I also saw firsthand the long hours and large workload it involves, as I was lucky enough to stay with the consultant’s family.

As you will have noticed I have a big interest in malaria, and in March after being inspired by the characters in Mary and Martha, I decided to write to my MP about increasing the Global Fund to fight malaria. I didn’t expect to get a reply, but surprisingly I received an invitation to a Parliamentary World Malaria Day meeting at Westminster. I was so excited but I had an even bigger surprise when I was asked to prepare a speech about my experience of malaria, and so nervously I agreed…

In April I travelled to Westminster for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases. I had to introduce the event by talking about the importance of fighting against malaria, which was quite scary in front of so many experts. Thankfully it went down well and I could relax and enjoy the rest of the evening, which I was so honoured to be a part of. Later on in the year I heard that it had been a success as the UK pledged 1 billion pounds for the Global Fund’s fight against Malaria, HIV and TB. I wanted to do more for Malaria No More, so later that month I took part in the Live Below the Line challenge and lived on only £1 a day to raise money and awareness.

In May and June most of my time was taken up revising for my AS Levels, but I took some weekends off to look around universities on their Open Days. I also began writing my personal statement, anxious to get it out of the way before my busy summer.

July began with a week in Dartmoor on my Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition. It was exhausting but I had so much fun with our team. We overcame a lot of challenges together, and got along really well despite the difficulties we faced.
I then travelled down to London for some work experience with Alan Dangour at the London School of Tropical Medicine, which was really interesting and I enjoyed doing some research and then presenting it.
I also had a week’s work experience on the Aspiring Doctor’s programme at Stafford Hospital. It showed me the diversity medicine offers, as I shadowed different health professionals in many different specialties, but the highlight was a morning in surgery watching an open bowel operation. I really enjoyed the teamwork, practical element and communication involved. The surgeon was very good at explaining everything he was doing.
I also really enjoyed spending a lot of time volunteering at Katharine House Hospice. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know some of the patients and I’ve learnt that sometimes a smile and a chat can help people to feel so much better. Surprisingly I also learnt how to Bollywood dance, and demonstrated it to the patients with a dance teacher!

In August I travelled down to Southampton to stay with a consultant Nephrologist and shadowed her for a week at Portsmouth and Southampton hospitals. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed being able to talk to lots of patients, as well as medical students and healthcare professionals. A highlight was spending an afternoon in theatre with a Navy anaesthetist, who took time to teach me about his work.

After a welcome holiday in Portugal, I took my UKCAT test, which was quite scary as when I walked in, a girl came out crying, but thankfully it wasn’t half as bad as I had expected.

I sent off my UCAS application in September and I heard back in October with my first invitation for an interview. I was so excited and in return for blogging about it, I was offered a free place on the Success in Medicine Interview Course the day before my interview. It was a really useful course, which gave a lot of advice about the interview and put me at ease with practice scenarios, and their feedback afterwards was very helpful.

In November I was delighted to get another invitation for an interview, and I felt a lot more confident after my first interview. I’m now busy studying for my mocks and waiting to hear from universities about whether or not I’ve been successful. Hopefully this time next year I’ll be at medical school, looking back on another great year.

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,

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.

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.

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

Malaria No More – My Real Life Story

Malaria No More have just published my Real Life Story, on their website here. They asked me to write about why I’m fundraising for them through my Just Giving page, and about my brother who became very ill with malaria.

I’m trying to raise more money for them by taking part in the Live Below The Line challenge next week; all my food and drink must cost £5 or less over 5 days.

 

New synthetic anti-malarial could slow down resistance

According to this New Scientist article, an American company has recently discovered a way to manufacture artemisinin, the world’s most effective anti-malarial drug. In the past, artemisinic acid has always been extracted from the specially grown wormwood plant, and then made into the drug. Now, Amyris, a biotech company, can get yeast to pump out the acid, in just 3 weeks, instead of 18 months, which could make it much cheaper to produce.

However, the malaria parasite is becoming resistant to artemisinin, so this new development could help, if it is combined with other drugs. Unfortunately, some companies are still producing pure artemisinin and 25 countries still allow it to be used, which means that resistance to it is growing.

Hopefully, this new synthetic production of the drug, will make it cheaper to produce, and will out-price the pure artemisinin, so the rate of resistance slows down.

Resistance to artemisinin is mostly in Asia, but there are fears that it could spread to Africa where 90% of malaria deaths occur. It’s also been discovered that parasites in Cambodia have greater genetic resistance to the drug compared with resistant parasites in other parts of the world. Nicholas White of Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, says that ‘…the most important tool needed to contain resistance is finding a genetic marker for it.’

Let’s hope that research into anti-malarial drugs continues to produce effective results, and that a genetic marker can be identified to combat the resistance of malarial parasites to the drugs. In the meantime, the use of treated bed nets is a really cheap and effective way of reducing the risk of people being bitten, especially children.

This Thursday is World Malaria Day. If you want to help to fight malaria, please click on my Just Giving page here, where a donation of £5 will buy and deliver a treated bed net for a family in Africa. Thanks!

Roll Back Malaria "World

Letter from DFID

The other day I received this email from Lynne Featherstone MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, in reply to my letter about malaria.

Lynne Featherstone MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State

Dear Jeremy,

8 April 2013

Thank you for your email of 18 March to Justine Greening forwarding one from your constituent, Megan Owen, about the UK’s work on malaria control. I am replying as the Minister who leads on the issues raised.

As your constituent indicates the UK Government has made tackling malaria a Government priority, and has made a public commitment to help at least ten countries halve the number of malaria deaths between 2010 and 2015, and we will spend up to £500 million a year to do this. We ensure that we spend the money wisely on what works. We also know the potential for malaria deaths to rebound and are therefore striving to sustain these gains, including by working with national governments and international partners.

Through our malaria programmes and the support we provide to organisations such as the Global Fund, we will deliver more than 60 million bed-nets between 2010 and 2015. That is equivalent to one bed-net from every man, woman and child in the UK.

An example of a malaria programme that DFID funds is in Mozambique, where indoor residual spraying is used to kill the mosquitoes that spread malaria, helping to reduce transmission. This programme will help protect 5.8 million people from malaria, reducing malaria admissions to hospital by 40%, and saving up to 5,000 children’s lives.

DFID directly supports health care workers and the provision of essential health services through our programmes in many countries, which helps countries to prevent and treat malaria effectively.

If your constituent would like to know more she might want to look at the Government’s document called Breaking the Cycle: Saving Lives and Protecting the Future at www.gov.uk/government/publications/. This document sets out how the DFID will work with developing countries to tackle malaria.

The UK Government will continue to help countries control malaria, and reduce the number of children dying until we have properly fought this terrible disease.

I hope this reply helps to assure your constituent of the continuing priority the UK Government attaches to the fight against malaria. I would like to wish Megan well with her studies and her efforts to raise awareness and money for tackling malaria.

Kind regards,

LYNNE FEATHERSTONE

DFID, 22 Whitehall, London SW1A 2EG | www.dfid.gov.uk | +44 (0)20 7023 0000

Letter from The House of Commons

photo-2-1Today I received this letter from Jeremy Lefroy, inviting me to give a presentation at the World Malaria Day All Party Parliamentary Group (APPMG) meeting, about why I believe malaria needs to be a priority for Government. I think that it’s an amazing opportunity, and I’m really excited but a bit nervous too! 

image from http://malarianomore.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/APPMG-logo-179x300.jpg

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases

Today I received an email from Susan Dykes, coordinator of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (APPMG).  Jeremy Lefroy showed her the letter I wrote to him and she has invited me to take part in their World Malaria Day event on 23rd April, in Westminster.

image from http://www.elca.org/~/media/Images/Our%20Faith%20In%20Action/Responding%20to%20the%20World/Malaria/world_malaria_day_2013.jpg

The APPMG hold regular monthly meetings and invite experts in the field of malaria and tropical diseases to talk and debate with parliamentarians, to try to find both urgent and long term solutions to malaria. They also discuss new ideas and new technologies and methods of field work in the battle against malaria and other treatable diseases.

They take evidence from academic, governmental, international agency, charitable, private sector, professional and other people. Each year they publish an annual report of the evidence gathered by the world’s leading professionals, in order to try to eradicate malaria for good. Jeremy Lefroy is the chairman of the APPMG. 

I’m really excited about going and taking part in the event, as I shall not only learn more about what’s being done to prevent malaria, but also meet some interesting people from different fields.

image from http://blogs.elca.org/malaria/files/2012/03/world-malaria-day2.jpg

Letter to Jeremy Lefroy

I have written this letter to my local MP, Jeremy Lefroy, asking for his support in ending malaria. You can Add your voice too, by writing to your local MP. 

Dear Mr Lefroy,

It was really interesting to meet you when I went to Auschwitz last
month, and to hear about your time in Tanzania. As you know, I’m in the
sixth form, after which I’m hoping to study medicine.
I was first inspired to become a doctor after my younger
brother, caught malaria in Malawi. I really admire the doctors
I met out there and the vital work they do, despite the country’s
poverty and difficulties. Now I’m back in England, I’m raising
awareness and money for ‘Malaria No More’, through my blog about my
journey from Malawi to medical school:
http://medblog.medlink-uk.net/megsjourney/.

I think the UK’s commitment to help halve malaria deaths in at least 10
of the world’s most affected countries by 2015 is so important, and I
would love it if, like me, you could support this amazing commitment
and ensure that it’s backed with sufficient funding. My brother was so
lucky; he was fit and healthy and had access to a private hospital
where he was given life-saving treatment, and was able to recover
quickly. Unfortunately, 1500 children are still dying every day from
malaria, even though it’s preventable.

There’s been amazing progress made in the last 10 years, with deaths
from malaria cut by over 25%, but I don’t feel that this is enough.
Although the UK has played a leading role in reducing malaria, if we
don’t do more, then malaria could rapidly rise again. It would be great
if you could join me in calling for action now, to make sure that this
doesn’t happen.

If you could pass this email to the Secretary of State for
International Development, I’d like to ask her to redouble UK efforts
against malaria, including support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS,
TB and Malaria. It’s already saved almost 9 million lives, but
desperately needs topping up if it’s to continue its vital work.

I believe that defeating malaria would be the greatest humanitarian
achievement of all time, and it is achievable, with enough money and
the right leadership. Ending deaths caused by malaria is very important
to me personally. I know that millions of children die because of the
disease and, without the right care, it could easily have been my
brother.

Thank you for your support,

Megan

The inspirational story of Jo Yirrell

Yesterday evening I watched Mary and Martha, on BBC 1. I found the film incredibly moving, and it has inspired me to do more to help in the fight against malaria. This morning I received this email from Jo Yirrell, the lady who inspired the character of Martha. 

Dear Megan, 

Did you watch Mary and Martha, the new film written by Richard Curtis shown on BBC1 this evening? 
 
If you did, I hope you’ll agree that no parent should lose their child to a preventable disease that costs £1 to treat. 
 
My son Harry died from malaria and my story was part of the inspiration for this film and the character of Martha. I see a lot of myself in her, and just like Martha I got involved with the fight against malaria after my loss. I am honoured to have been able to help and I hope that this important film moves, inspires and engages people across the world about our generation’s momentous opportunity to stop suffering and death from malaria.
 
My own experience shows the reality behind the fiction of Mary and Martha and, sadly, the impact of malaria is devastating for the people who live in malarial areas.  A child dies every minute from malaria, 90% of these deaths are in Africa, 86% are children under five, but we are alive at a time when making malaria no more can be a reality; please make sure you’re part of it.
 
Here’s what you can do to help make sure no parent loses their child to malaria:
Donate now – Your donation has the power to save lives
Live Below the Line – Can you live on £1 a day for five days?
Add your voice – Ask your MP to help halve malaria deaths in 10 countries
 
Thank you from the bottom of my heart
Jo Yirrell
Special Ambassador for Malaria No More UK

I have decided to ‘add my voice’, by writing to my local MP, Jeremy Lefroy, to ask him about what more can be done to help end deaths caused by malaria.