The Good Fight against Malaria

Malaria claims more than 800,000 lives annually, primarily among young African children. Yet, unlike the aftermath of a natural disaster, as in Haiti or Japan, there are no photographs to capture the scope of this tragedy, which facilitates indifference to preventable suffering.

LONDON – The tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti, and Hurricane Katrina are among the world’s most notorious recent natural disasters. Their fierce devastation claimed thousands of lives, destroyed vital infrastructure, and crippled economies. The communities affected could not be more different from one another, and yet the similarities in the responses are striking. The worldwide outpouring of support demonstrated what humanity is capable of at its best.

While international support in a time of crisis demonstrates a seemingly innate moral response to the suffering of others, it also highlights with disquieting clarity that the same level of empathy is more difficult to evoke when a crisis is chronic instead of sudden, unexpected, and dramatic. 

One of the most devastating global health challenges on the planet is malaria, which claims more than 800,000 lives annually, primarily among young African children. According to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, 2,000 children die of the disease each day. Yet, unlike the aftermath of a natural disaster, there are no photographs to capture the scope of this tragedy. The loss of life is every bit as devastating, but without the onslaught of grisly images, it is much easier to become indifferent to malaria’s victims.

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