It seems odd to feel optimism when the subject of malaria arises, but it is necessary this year on World Malaria Day. Year after year you could write that one child dies each minute in the world from malaria, a preventable and treatable disease, but this year is different. The death rates and infection rates for malaria are falling because of increased worldwide efforts at control of this deadly disease, efforts which include mosquito abatement, protection of residences and mosquito netting for beds, improved diagnostic tests for malaria, and improved treatment options. There were still a staggering 214 million cases of malaria in the world last year with 438,000 of those people not surviving their illness, but progress is being made. Hopefully the ambitious 15 year World Health Organization goals including reducing malaria cases and deaths by at least 90% can be attained and maintained.
Those who serve in mission countries have a second reason to feel optimistic. In addition to the blessing of seeing the improved health and life expectancy of those they serve, they know that these efforts also decrease their personal risk of acquiring malaria. It is one of those times where those who reside in mission lands and those who come to serve share common risks and common personal concerns. Hopefully malaria in mission lands will one day be like rotary phones; something you tell your children once existed as they stare back at you in disbelief.
Today's guest blog post is contributed by Dr. Tim Cavanagh. Dr. Cavanagh is a veteran Mission Doctor. Tim and his wife Sheila served for three years in rural Zimbabwe and continue to serve on short-term missions in Africa and Latin America. Additionally he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Mission Doctors Association.