United Campus Ministry Works to End Malaria in Africa

Every minute a child in Africa dies from malaria, a disease that is preventable and treatable. For the past three years, the United Campus Ministry at Frostburg State University has sponsored a malaria campaign to prevent deaths from the disease and to raise money to provide resources for individuals in Africa to help prevent the spread of the disease. This includes the observation of an “Imagine No Malaria” campaign in October 2014 and the “Nothing but Nets” campaign, which raises money for treated bed nets and medication.

Out of all diseases, malaria is one of the diseases that is most overlooked. It is also one that disease that kills the most people. Working to reverse these truths, the UCM set tables in the Lane University Center for students to buy a net to help protect a family of four from the malaria. Ten dollars buys one net, which can then save four people by allowing them to sleep protected from the mosquitos which carry this disease. Nets protect families for three years.

The malaria campaign focuses on prevention, education and treatment. According to Cynthia Zirlott, who is better known as Chaplain Cindy and is also the advisor for UCM, the campaign involves distributing insecticide-treated bed nets. Other aspects of the campaign involve working to drain areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed and teaching people in rural areas how to protect themselves from mosquitoes. Education on how to identify early symptoms of malaria before it is too late and on what actually causes malaria are also included. This is a helpful prevention technique because many people in Africa are lacking information and believe that the devil causes malaria.

Since the 2012, the campaign has made a difference. In 2012, every 30 seconds an individual died from the disease. In 2013 this figure was an individual dieing every 45 seconds, and this year it is every 60 seconds that an individual dies from malaria. The time continues to go down as people continue to help and donate money. Another example of the impact of the campaign is the country of Rwanda gave out bed nets and medication, and within two years, the child mortality rate had decreased by 66%.

Malaria is not a disease of the past. Although it is preventable, unlike Ebola, that does not mean it deserves less attention then Ebola. Most people believe that if a disease is preventable, it can be easily treated. However, without money or resources the disease will continue to spread and will continue to kill people like it has already done. It is for this reason that the UCM would like to continue to raise awareness even after the campaign is over. “The campaign may stop but giving can always happen. I am sad that the campaign is coming to an end, but I hope we have raised enough awareness to continue to help prevent the disease and save lives,” said Zirlott.

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