Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the organization End Malaria Now?
Bianca Cato: End Malaria Now was founded in the year 2010 by Richard Harding and Denise Tran, with the goal of eliminating the disease in sub-Saharan Africa through preventative measures. By distributing life-saving, insecticide-treated bed nets to children and families in the most susceptible regions, we hope to make strides in preventing malaria and eliminating it altogether. While we will continue to combat this disease, we hope to expand our reach beyond bed nets. We have launched our most recent project in 2017 called Life Learning Leadership, which serves students in Africa by providing basic essentials, promoting academic achievement, and inspiring civic betterment and leadership development through cultural exchange.
BD: What can you share about the individuals involved with End Malaria Now and their efforts towards raising consciousness and funding to fight and eradicate malaria in Africa?
BC: Our Community Outreach Ambassadors work tirelessly to outreach to as many members of the community as possible, because they understand the importance and urgency of End Malaria Now’s mission. Despite their diverse educational backgrounds, they are all drawn to our cause for the same reason – the desire to make a difference in others’ lives. Thanks to these passionate and dedicated individuals, we are constantly making progress towards our goal of eliminating malaria in Africa.
BD: What are some of the organizations that have partnered with End Malaria Now?
BC: Our partners include the Division of Malaria Control in Kenya, the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, and the Rotary Club of Mtwapa, which is the Kenyan chapter of a worldwide organization dedicated to providing service to others, inspired by the principle of “Service above Self.” These are a few of the organizations we’ve been fortunate to partner with during our service trips to Africa.
BD: What are the biggest hurdles to combating malaria?
BC: There are several obstacles in combating malaria, especially if we wish to eliminate the disease within our lifetime. In the preventative stage, lack of education on the cause and transmission of malaria as well as ineffective use and maintenance of malaria prevention strategies provide major barriers to effective disease control. Many members of at-risk populations live in poor, rural areas, have limited access to nearby healthcare facilities, and cannot afford to pay for prevention strategies. Even if organizations like End Malaria Now succeeded in providing bed nets to all regions at risk, most families will still be unable to afford treatment if infection does occur. During the treatment phase, there are logistical obstacles to reaching remote communities with poor transport systems when providing malaria treatment. Additionally, the possibility of re-infection after treatment is high, while the malaria parasite continues to grow resistant towards antimalarial drugs and agents. Fragile healthcare systems in Africa also present challenges to eliminating this disease. Thus, End Malaria Now believes in the utmost importance of education and outreach during the prevention stage, before treatment becomes necessary to save lives.
BD: How can other individuals get involved with End Malaria Now, and what are a few ways that community members can truly make a difference?
BC: End Malaria Now happily welcomes volunteers from all walks of life and from all over the globe. We also encourage partnerships with individuals who wish to collaborate on campaigns with our organization through their schools, workplaces, sports teams, rotary clubs, and other community groups. Even if individuals are unable to make a monetary contribution, they are also welcome to spread awareness about our cause by sharing our posts or creating their own through the various social media venues including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
BD: Are there any other fundraising events or activities that you are currently working on that you would like to share with our readers?
BC: We are currently working on a collaborative project with Miss Tanzania (Lylian Muttakyawa) to address malaria and malaria prevention in her home country. Tanzania has the third largest population at risk of malaria in Africa - over 90% of the population live in areas where malaria is prevalent. Each year, 10 to 12 million people contract malaria in Tanzania and 80,000 die from the disease, the majority of them children. Our goal is to provide 5,000 bed nets to the people of Tanzania by the year 2018.
We are also excited to launch our newest project, Life Learning Leadership. One of our main strategies going forward is to provide students in Africa with “Msaada kits,” which are packages that include basic essentials, a Lifestraw that filters clean water, and an insecticide-treated bed net. Our goals also include addressing the specific needs of vetted schools/institutions, hosting leadership workshops, and raising funds for a scholarship to award to a promising young candidate.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about End Malaria Now?
BC: If you are interested in learning more about End Malaria Now and Life Learning Leadership or would like to make a contribution, please visit our website at www.endmalarianow.org. You can also follow us on social media via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates!
If you have a volunteer opportunity or an important cause that could use the assistance of a few geeks, please email the details to barbra (at) fanbasepress (dot) com.