World Malaria Day 2012

World Malaria Day, April 25th, is a day for recognizing the global effort to eradicate malaria.

Concern’s innovative research suggests that one solution to the malaria threat may be found in nature.

In 2010, about 3.3 billion people - almost half of the world's population - were at risk of malaria. Every year, this leads to about 216 million malaria cases and an estimated 655,000 deaths. People living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable. Most deaths occur among children living in Africa, where a child dies every minute from malaria.

Specifically in Tanzania, malaria and diarrhea are the main causes of death among young children, with the poorest ones more likely to suffer because of limited access to clean water, health care and health information.  

To address this, Concern launched a four-year research project that identified simple, low cost and sustainable ways to reduce the impact of malaria. This cutting-edge research project, conducted in the Ngara District of the Kagera Region in Tanzania with the support of the Xerox Foundation, looks at how an endemic plant called Lantana camara can reduce the presence of mosquitoes when grown around the home.

The first phase is now completed and the results are striking. Households that have Lantana planted outside of their homes had 56% fewer Anopheles gambiae and 83% fewer Anopheles funestus – two types of malaria-carrying mosquitoes – and 50% fewer mosquitoes of any kind.  The project is also completely affordable and sustainable, costing only $1.50 to give a household enough Lantana camara to plant around their homes.

This research is groundbreaking evidence that natural and often low-cost technology is effective in improving the health of the world’s poorest communities.   The second part of the project is now underway to evaluate if malaria rates do in fact drop and if they do, then Tanzania, and perhaps other countries will be one step closer to zero malaria deaths in the future. 

Joseph Calahan, President of the Xerox Foundation, took a trip to Tanzania to see the results of this project.  Read about his personal experience HERE.