I went to several showers recently for nieces who are having their first babies. Not having been to a baby shower in the U.S. for a while, it was fascinating for me to see the even wider range of baby gear that is available these days as compared to when my own kids were little. Having a baby seems to continually get more complicated.
But among all of this new and fancy stuff, I didn’t spot the most essential piece of baby gear for me when I had my babies overseas in developing countries. Having contracted malaria once as a Peace Corps volunteer, I was focused as a young mother on protecting my babies from getting this deadly disease. At the top of my shopping list for baby essentials were two bed nets – one for my baby’s crib and the second for the chair in her room, where we could sit safely during the evenings/nights when she was up.
Now don’t think just because I was overseas I didn’t have a color theme for my baby’s room, I did. My bed nets were stylishly trimmed with pink bows and ribbons – and I won’t apologize for my traditional ways!
I am happy to report my bed net strategy was successful and my babies were malaria free.
The same is not true for the hundreds of thousands of children who contract malaria each year. Of the estimated 1 million annual deaths from malaria, approximately 80% occur in young African children. Although great strides have been made in the last decade in decreasing malaria prevalence, obviously we can’t declare victory yet.
Today, April 25, we mark World Malaria Day. Its theme - Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria – emphasizes that message. Whether the malaria picture will keep improving or be replaced by other priorities, depends, to a great extent, on enough resources being invested in control efforts over the coming years.
ChildFund certainly will continue its strategy – ensuring that children sleep safely under an insecticide-treated bed net each night.