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Uniting to Fight Malaria Around the World

WASHINGTON, April 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, on World Malaria Day, the American Red Cross is joining with its partners to raise awareness and encourage a robust global response to this deadly disease.

Each year, malaria, a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes, affects approximately 300 million people, mostly children in Africa. More than 1 million people die globally each year from the disease.

Since 2001, the American Red Cross and its partners in the Measles Initiative have distributed more than 31 million insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria in Africa and Asia, including more than 7 million nets in 2007. In Madagascar, the American Red Cross teamed up with its partners to mobilize more than 1.5 million nets for families.

"When you look into the eyes of a mother or child in Africa who has just received a bed net, you know that you have saved a life and prevented needless suffering. Most importantly, you have given a child and a family the opportunity for a healthier future," said Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, chairman of the American Red Cross, who traveled to Madagascar for the campaign. "We stand in solidarity with the President's Malaria Initiative, our sister Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, and our many other partners to push back the tide of this deadly disease and continue the fight against malaria."

McElveen-Hunter is attending today's signing of the Presidential Proclamation in honor of the second annual Malaria Awareness Day by President Bush at the White House.

In addition to supporting the distribution of mosquito nets, the American Red Cross is working with volunteers from the Malagasy Red Cross to educate recipients about properly hanging and caring for their nets. These "hang-up/keep-up" campaigns increase the use of nets, which is essential for protecting families. Through this program, staff from the American Red Cross is working with more than 2,000 volunteers to provide lifesaving skills to more than 700,000 people.

"The dedicated volunteers from local Red Cross and Red Crescent societies are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with community leaders to provide vital health information about malaria and deliver hope to families," said McElveen-Hunter.

Malaria is a severe problem in Haiti, where families are particularly vulnerable due to the challenging health conditions. Through a malaria prevention program, the American Red Cross is supporting the distribution of more than 12,500 nets to families in six vulnerable areas. In addition to mosquito nets, the American Red Cross and Haitian Red Cross have initiated a pilot program to provide high-risk families with insecticide-treated curtains, which prevent mosquitoes from entering homes through doors and windows.

Suzette Celestin of Rue St. Andre in northeastern Haiti received a net for her family. "The Red Cross volunteers gave us a good training that helped us a lot," said Celestin. "Everything I learned I try to put in practice, so now we can start screaming victory against the mosquitoes."

The American Red Cross also works with partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to coordinate the distribution of nets following international disasters, when people are particularly vulnerable to disease. For example, the American Red Cross helped distribute more than 40,000 bed nets following devastating cyclones in Madagascar and flooding in Sudan and Mexico.

Later this year, the American Red Cross will support additional malaria prevention activities in Mozambique, Indonesia and other countries helping protect many more people against this deadly disease.

You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Please call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation.

SOURCE American Red Cross
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