Media CenterCRS Commits $5 Million to Fight Malaria in Niger, West Africa
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
Together with the Global Fund, CRS will reach 500,000 children with anti-malaria medication
BALTIMORE, MD, September 16, 2016 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) launched a campaign today aimed at saving 500,000 young children from potentially fatal malaria infection in the impoverished West African nation of Niger. The announcement was made at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Replenishment Conference in Montreal, Canada.
“Joining with the Global Fund greatly expands our capacity to fight malaria,” said Sean Callahan, Chief Operating Officer for CRS. “It brings us one step closer to our shared goal of ending the malaria epidemic by 2030.” Callahan announced CRS’ commitment in front of world leaders and dignitaries convening in Montreal to make financial pledges to the Global Fund.
The campaign, titled Crush Malaria, will reach 500,000 children between 3 months and 5 years old—the age group most at risk for severe illness and death, with preventative medication. This medication, known as seasonal malarial chemoprevention, or SMC, is a cost-effective approach that can be administered by community health workers in isolated rural communities. It costs on average just $5 per child. This will be a major step towards providing universal SMC coverage for Niger’s entire population.
“Malaria deaths are a fact of life in Niger,” said Callahan. “When someone gets sick, it impacts every area of life. If you have malaria, you can’t go to school, to work, and even if treatment is available, it costs money.”
Some 76 percent of malaria infections end in death for children under five in Niger, the world’s poorest nation according to the UN’s Human Development Index. Most of Niger’s population lives in rural areas where the nearest clinic can be 30 miles away. But globally, through programs like SMC and the work of the Global Fund and others, malaria deaths have been reduced by 60 percent over the last 15 years.
“We can go a long way towards making many young lives healthier and happier with this low-cost, preventive medication,” said Callahan. “For me, as a Catholic and a humanitarian, it is imperative to give these children access to simple medical care that most of us would regard as a right. It is time for us all to do more. We can end malaria.”
CRS has been working with the Global Fund on programs to tackle HIV, TB and malaria since 2003. This work has benefited over 50 million people in 26 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. CRS also operates malaria programs in 10 countries, including Niger, which fight the disease through prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and community education.
The Global Fund’s Replenishment Conference takes place in Montreal Sept. 16 and 17, and is hosted by the government of Canada.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.