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 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

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.

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.

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

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

 

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.

 

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

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

Interview with Chris Richardson-Wright of Malaria No More

Chris Richardson-Wright works for Malaria No More and he has kindly answered my questions about their work to combat malaria.

Me: I know that you have partnerships in Ghana, Botswana and Namibia which are already helping to protect over ten million people from malaria, are you planning on expanding into other African countries, like Malawi?

Malaria No More: Malaria No More UK invests in countries and programmes according to the extent of a country’s malaria burden and our ability to make a sizeable impact. To date, this has led to investments in: Ghana, where 100% of the population is at risk of malaria; Botswana and Namibia, where a comparatively smaller malaria burden has enabled them to adopt ambitious strategies towards malaria elimination. An example of one of our recent projects in Namibia can be found here and with the help of the Global Fund we’re rolling out the pilot scheme across the country. Whilst we are currently investing in malaria control programmes on the ground in Ghana, Botswana and Namibia – where we have been able to use our funding to leverage a significant impact – our advocacy and communications support extends across Africa and beyond. Our efforts have, for example, helped to secure an increase in UK aid support for malaria, with the government committed to spending up to £500 million per year on malaria by 2014. We have also been successful in advocating with DFID for this funding to be directed at those countries hardest hit by the malaria epidemic – including Uganda, Rwanda & Ethiopia. Go here for more information on where UK aid is being spent on malaria. 

Me: There is a focus on mosquito nets for the prevention of malaria, but in reality people can still become infected when they are not sleeping under their net. How likely is it that there will be a vaccine available in the future?

Malaria No More: Vaccines are seen as the most effective – and often cheapest – means to stop the spread of disease. Scientists around the world are working on the development of a vaccine against malaria and there are promising developments on a weekly basis. However, the malaria parasites have proven to be remarkably adaptable. They change their characteristics as antibodies are developed, making it hard to find a vaccine.

Currently there is no vaccine that has been approved for use, although there are trials of a malaria vaccine happening at present in Africa. It will be some years before a vaccine is available to help prevent the spread of malaria among all those vulnerable to the disease. In the meantime, we need to concentrate on providing prevention, testing and treatment.

It is worth noting that although a vaccine would be a great solution, we do have the tools to achieve country-level elimination of malaria without vaccines, and bed nets remain one of our most effective weapons.

Me: How close are we to achieving the global goal of near zero deaths from malaria by 2015?

Malaria No More: The target of near zero malaria deaths by 2015 was set by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership in 2008, we have the knowledge and tools to make this vision a reality. Increased international support and strong African leadership have enabled tremendous progress with malaria deaths reduced by almost 10% between 2008 and 2009. However, we are still a long way from achieving this goal and increased and sustained support will be critical over the next few years. Current international funding in 2011 amounts to just one third of the anticipated need. Although it looks increasingly likely that the target may be beyond us, it has provided a brilliant aim for the global malaria campaign to rally around and has helped launch initiatives that otherwise may not have come into effect. Funding decisions made over the next few years could determine whether we continue to see a decline in malaria cases, or whether we see a resurgence in the disease, so we have to make sure that we keep up the pressure and the effort to fight the disease.

Malaria No More – Live Below the Line

Malaria No More have sent me this information about a great challenge which is coming up to raise money for the charity…

“Live Below the Line is back!
Between 29 April and 3 May, we will be part of an amazing movement to help tackle malaria and other causes of extreme poverty. Hundreds of people from all walks of life will be Living Below the Line for Malaria No More UK.

The Challenge?  To live on £1 for all food and drink for 5 days. Why?  Because that’s the reality for the 1.4 billion people who live below the poverty line everyday for everything.

It sounds like a tough challenge, but we and 200 of our supporters and friends took part last year raising vital funds and awareness to help beat malaria.  Take a look at this short film clip to see how much fun we had.

Will you join us in 2013?

It’s less than two weeks until Live Below the Line launches for 2013, but it’s not too late to get ahead of the crowd and sign up now.

Malaria is one of the greatest causes of poverty in Africa, but it’s one of the cheapest to end.  In fact it costs less than the price of a cup of coffee to treat a child and save their life. You can be a part of making malaria no more by signing up to Live Below the Line this year.”

‘Malaria No More’ News

This morning I was asked to share this news from Malaria No More, as I’m supporting their work to combat malaria. Thank you to all who have donated on my Just Giving page.

Dear Megan,

The results are just in from work we helped support in Namibia to increase malaria testing and we wanted to share the great news with you!

Namibia’s amazing progress against malaria has seen rates slashed by over 95% in the last decade, making accurate diagnosis before treatment is given even more important. With your help, we supported development and testing of a new health worker training programme focused on improving diagnosis, including the use of rapid diagnostic tests for malaria.

THE RESULTS
Over 100 health workers were trained in Kavango, the region with the highest reported malaria illness. The results of the programme showed a significant rise in the number of patients tested for malaria and an increase in correct prescriptions of malaria treatment.

The strongest improvement was seen when training was followed up by mentoring, resulting in the number of patients tested rising from 27% to a whopping 90%. Almost 8,000 people benefited from malaria testing in the six months following the training and the work continues.

It is extremely encouraging that the increased testing also showed much lower levels of malaria in the region than previously thought. This is really positive news for Namibia’s efforts to become malaria free and helps the Ministry of Health to plan for the future.

Angelika, one of the malaria mentors, told us “This training has helped us frame the way we look at cases… we have proof that we are fighting malaria and getting to zero local transmission. It is something I can already see, the training changed our mindset. We are not vulnerable. We can combat malaria.”

CONTINUING THE WORK
Excitingly, efforts now are underway to roll out the new training and mentorship programme across the country with support from The Global Fund.

We are also continuing our work in Namibia with a new programme helping health clinics and communities identify and target responses in the country’s remaining malaria hotspots; aiming to maximise impact towards Namibia’s goal to become malaria free by 2020.

SHARE THE NEWS
It’s wonderful to be able to share this step towards making malaria no more with you – we’d love it if you wanted to share the good news too!