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World Malaria Day - A Moment to Reflect

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MALARIA PARASITES
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Thursday is World Malaria Day - a moment to reflect on the enormous global efforts taking place to rid the world of this terrible disease. It's also a poignant reminder of all those who have lost their lives to malaria, including my son Harry who died in 2005.

This year malaria will claim around 660,000 lives, that's about 15 times the population of my home town Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire. 660,000 is such a large number that most of us can't even get our heads around it - it sounds like a mistake. It sounds so large that even trying to prevent such a huge amount of deaths would be an impossible mountain to climb. But we know that's not so. Just a few years ago malaria claimed over one million lives every year, so there had actually been real and impressive progress in the fight: deaths have been cut by about 340,000 people a year.

If someone told you that we, as human beings, could save around 340,000 lives every year just by trying would you believe them? Would you also believe that malaria is one of the cheapest diseases to prevent and cure, so if we work together we can make a huge difference to the whole world? This is why the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and malaria was setup, it helps us work together so we can move mountains.

Panadol believes this too. Panadol have teamed up with Malaria No More UK this April and May and are donating 5p from every pack sold to help fight malaria in Africa. When all the 5ps add up they have incredible potential to save lives and Panadol has pledged to raise over £100,000. Each donation will go towards helping cost-effective life savers like mosquito nets and medicines reach those most at risk from malaria.

To put this into context, £1 is enough to buy medicine to save the life of a child with malaria, and £5 is enough to buy, deliver and hang a mosquito net that can protect two children. The partnership with Panadol will also raise vital awareness to encourage travellers to make sure they know how to protect themselves from malaria - this can make the difference between life and death.

My son Harry didn't sleep under his mosquito net or complete his course of antimalarial pills. He was teaching at a school in Ghana, and he could see the devastating effect malaria was having on the kids there and so he gave his pills away. He thought he was too big and strong to worry about the disease so he tried to protect the children instead. It was a stupid, brave and caring thing to do, and his kindness cost him his life. I would give anything to have my Harry back, but as I can't have that, I have to do what he would have wanted - care.

So I care about malaria. I care about all the children malaria is taking from this world every day. I care about the mothers and fathers who are grieving for the loss of their children. I care about you caring about malaria. I care that we all don't care enough.

Once upon a time, not allowing women to vote was acceptable, but it is not. Once upon a time apartheid was acceptable, but it is not. Once upon a time, the world found slavery acceptable, but it is not. A child dies every minute from malaria and this is not acceptable either. Malaria is a treatable and curable disease - let's treat and cure it.

Thursday is World Malaria Day. Please take some time to care about the disease and all those who have fought it, and those fighting it now.

Let's make malaria no more.

Follow @PanadolUK and @MalariaNoMoreUk on twitter to find out how they are working together in the fight against malaria, and how minutes can make the difference: http://malarianomore.org.uk/minutesmatter

NB Panadol is not a cure or a preventative for malaria.

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