Monday, 21 April 2014

World Health Day, Getting Malaria?

To mark World Health Day, I got involved in the Getting Malaria? event held by Malaria No More in Parliament. This experiential event inspired, engaged and thanked supporters of all political parties for backing UK action to fight malaria.

(Bizarrely I came home from Africa recently and was accompanied by a mosquito hiding in my luggage. It was quickly squashed a few miles from Manchester Airport with a ballast of blood. Alarming to think it may have been carrying malaria.)

It gave me an opportunity to find out more about the transformational difference being made to millions of people around the world thanks to UK leadership and increased global action to save lives from malaria, one of the world’s most deadly yet preventable diseases.

I was one of over 30 MPs and Peers in attendance at the event, hosted by charity Malaria No More UK and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases at Portcullis House in Westminster in the build up to World Malaria Day on 25th April.

It is utterly devastating to know that malaria needlessly claims over 1,300 children’s lives every day. No parent anywhere should lose their child to a curable disease that costs less than £1 to treat. I hope everyone in Haslingden & Hyndburn is proud and inspired to know our support is helping save lives

The UK’s support has helped underpin recent global success in the malaria campaign with over three million children’s lives saved - that’s more than the population of the West Midlands. But malaria can bounce back hard and fast if efforts to fight it are not maintained. The UK has a vital role to play in continuing to drive forward progress against malaria, helping to sustain international political will and financial commitments to save lives and protect against the threat of malaria resurgence.

The Organisation’s Executive Director, James Whiting, said: “We were delighted to welcome Graham Jones. His support and the backing of people across Haslingden & Hyndburn and beyond is making a tangible difference to millions of lives today. We passionately believe that no child anywhere should die from a preventable disease that costs less than a cup of tea to treat. I hope people across Haslingden & Hyndburn will be inspired to join our campaign to be the generation to end deaths from malaria”.

As you can see from the photographs above I was able to test my skin’s appeal to live mosquitoes by putting my hand on the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Live Mosquito Box to see if the mosquitoes responded to my presence. This is a part of the School’s research to deepen understanding about mosquitoes and how to prevent malaria.

I also saw Imperial College’s sophisticated modelling tools to show the effect that varying levels of global funding and their allocation have on the malaria fight, and I was able to compare the difference in test results between pre‐screened safe blood and blood infected with malaria at the Malaria Testing Clinic.

The fight against Malaria is both one of the greatest tragedies and potential successes of our age – I will continue to support organisations like Malaria No More.