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Reform Magazine | March 23, 2017

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Mothers at the mercy of a preventable killer

Mothers at the mercy of a preventable killer

Last year, malaria killed half a million people, yet it can be prevented by something as simple as a net, and is entirely treatable. Tomilola Ajayi meets the women of Kenya affected by it and reports on one of the lifesaving schemes that the Christian Aid Christmas campaign is promoting with the support of the United Reformed Church

Thirty years ago, I was admitted into hospital for the first – and so far only – time in my life. Days earlier, shortly before I turned two, my family had moved from Nigeria to the UK. Unbeknown to anyone, I had brought with me a small but deadly parasite – malaria.

My encounter with malaria was, thankfully, brief and uneventful: I was duly treated and discharged. But for hundreds of thousands worldwide it’s an all too different story.

Every 60 seconds a child dies from malaria. This preventable – and completely curable – disease is Africa’s biggest killer of children under five.

The World Health Organisation estimated that the number of deaths from malaria in 2015 will total 438,000, with 90% of the victims coming from sub-Saharan Africa and 70% of the victims aged between one and four. This situation is better than it was only a few years ago – malaria incidence fell by 37% globally between 20o0 and 2015 – but, as I discovered during a recent trip to Kenya, there is still a long way to go.

Malaria continues to be the leading cause of death in Kenya, with over 9m cases in 2012. In the region I visited – Nyanza province, western Kenya – the situation is particularly acute.
Nyanza is situated in a region along Lake Victoria where malaria is endemic. Dotted with fishing communities and green landscapes, it has the highest levels of poverty, HIV and malaria in Kenya. Sadly, it’s women and children who bear the brunt….

Tomilola Ajayi is press officer for Christian Aid. The United Reformed Church is a communications partner for Christian Aid’s Christmas appeal. To find out about the appeal more visit www.christianaid.org.uk/christmas

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This is an extract from the December 2015/January 2016 edition of Reform.

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