Moving the Mountain
The Gates Foundation recently funded a new study on malaria, which reports that deaths from malaria have been grossly underestimated in the past few years. With new mathematical models and advanced tools to estimate the number of deaths in areas where data has not been available, it seems the death toll is much higher than the tragedy we already knew.
Dr. Christopher Murray from the University of Washington, who led the study, found that the number of deaths in adults and children over the age of five was greater than previously reported. While malaria still predominantly affects women and children under five, the study showed that the disease affects everyone in endemic areas, where no one is immune to its blows. Unfortunately, it seems we are further away from eliminating malaria than we thought.
At the same time, however, the study is also a wake up call to point out just how important our work is as Faiths Act Fellows. While the new numbers pose a bigger challenge, researchers highlight that there has still been a steady decline in deaths since 2004, and through combined efforts, including important contributions from individual donors, we are still headed towards our goal of a malaria-free world. Our timing is crucial in ensuring that we uphold our promise to the world’s poorest by scaling up our efforts to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals.
I was recently reminded of something Jesus said, reported in the book of Matthew, 17:20, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Just when a setback makes me think our goal is insurmountable, I am reminded that all I need to do is have a little faith and know that we can accomplish extraordinary things with God’s help.
While the numbers may be worse than we thought, the fact is that malaria eradication efforts are working on the ground, such as through our project in Sierra Leone, and the number of malaria deaths is still significantly smaller due to the dedication of those who know that there is power in faith- even faith the size of a tiny mustard seed. As World Malaria Day approaches, let us continue our efforts to move the mountain, and trust that together through our dedicated, faithful efforts, we can help bring about the necessary action to see the number of malaria deaths plummet.