British tennis star Andy Murray is used to facing battles on the tennis court and has begun one this week, as he bids to reclaim a Wimbledon crown he won so famously back during his highly successful period of 2012-13, when he also captured Olympic Gold.
However, one major, global battle that the World number 2 has been proud to join is the fight against the deadly malaria disease.
In 2013 Medical Specialists® Pharmacy reported how Murray had lent his support behind the non-profit charity organisation Malaria No More in a bid to raise both awareness and monetary donations to help the cause, such as funding for vital malaria treatment and mosquito nets.
This year, Murray will be proudly wearing the Malaria No More logo on his sleeve, showing his huge devotion to fighting a tropical disease that is present in around 100 countries worldwide and placing 40% of the world’s population at work.
According to the World Health Organization, about 3.2 billion people – nearly half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. Moreover, in 2015, there were roughly 214 million malaria cases and around 438 000 people died from the disease. Increased prevention and control measures have led to a 60% reduction in malaria mortality rates globally since 2000. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 89% of malaria cases and 91% of malaria deaths.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Murray gave a passionate account of why he is working with the charity and gave a harrowing account of the very real and serious risk to life that malaria poses to millions of people worldwide.
“There’s no tournament on earth like Wimbledon and, after winning here three years ago, I’m looking forward to returning with the home advantage and the incredible support of my fans, and giving it my best shot.
“This year I’m proud to be wearing Malaria No More UK’s logo on my sleeve. I’ve supported the charity’s work to end malaria deaths for seven years now. Two things compelled me to get involved: firstly the devastating impact of malaria on children. This disease claims a young life every two minutes, yet it is preventable and it costs less than a pack of tennis balls to treat and help save a life. As a new dad this really hits home. You can’t help but imagine how different things would be if you lived in parts of Africa where malaria is the number one killer of young children in your community. It’s unthinkable, yet every day more than 800 children lose their lives because of a mosquito bite. In this day and age, this should not be happening.
“I was also attracted to the malaria campaign because of its single-minded focus, raw ambition and drive to achieve the goal to end malaria deaths in our lifetime. These are qualities that I admire and identify with. With the malaria fight – and from my personal experience – resolute commitment and persistence deliver results.
“For malaria, there’s been record progress to save lives, with child deaths slashed by more than half, saving more than six million lives between 2000 and 2015. That’s more than the entire population of Scotland! This progress is thanks to increased financial commitments and global efforts, supported by UK leadership, which have allowed more prevention (including mosquito nets) and better diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
“I was really interested to hear in April the World Health Organization announce that the European Region hit its 2015 target to wipe out malaria. It’s hard to picture malaria across Europe, but only a hundred years ago you were at risk of catching the disease in nearly every country in the world, so this is huge progress. It gives me hope for the future – we really can be the generation to make malaria no more.
“This September will be a big milestone for the progress to continue as countries will make their pledges to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the world’s biggest funder of programmes to fight and end these three preventable killers. With renewed commitment and enough funding, eight million more lives could be saved by 2020. I hope all countries, including the UK, will show continued boldness and leadership with strong pledges to save lives.
“In the fight against malaria, when funding has been reduced or stopped many countries have seen the disease return with a vengeance. We cannot afford to stand still or let any ground slip when so many lives and futures are at stake.
“Ending malaria is an incredible and achievable goal that we can all get behind – join me and support Malaria No More UK so that one day in our lifetime no parent anywhere will lose their son or daughter to a preventable disease like malaria. Donate to save lives at malarianomore.org.uk/donate.”