Often described as one of Africa’s biggest killers, malaria is as much about education as it is about prevention. That’s the driving force behind intrepid adventurer Kingsley Holgate’s quest to reduce the life-threatening disease across Africa.
Globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria. Nearly 600 000 deaths are claimed by the disease each year, 90% of them on African soil – 78% of those are children under five years old.
Malaria disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable. Primarily young children and pregnant women in Africa are more likely to be exposed to infection due to lower immunity levels and limited access to malaria prevention, treatment, and control measures.
While the statics are dire, malaria is a treatable and preventable disease. Simple tools like treated mosquito nets, effective medicines and safe indoor spraying can save lives.
Land Rover South Africa and the Kingsley Holgate Foundation continue to dedicate considerable resources to providing aid in countries where the Anopheles mosquito – which carries malaria – is found and to curb the spread of this deadly disease.
“As much as we’re committed to nature conservation, Land Rover’s support of humanitarian aid is extensive,” says Richard Gouverneur, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa. “Enabling Kingsley to continue his malaria-prevention education throughout Africa is high on Land Rover’s priority list and our vehicles allow him to reach communities that would otherwise not be touched by such life-saving measures.”
Holgate’s convoy of Land Rovers has conducted expeditions in every country in Africa, becoming well-versed in malaria prevention practices. The team’s research and report back forms include community details, GPS coordinates, names of community leaders, the number of nets distributed and details of malaria risk and closest clinics or hospitals to ensure sustainability and follow-up.
In 2014, Holgate distributed more than 17 000 Permanet 3.0 nets, manufactured by Vestergaard, to communities in eight countries in sub-Sahara Africa. At an average of three people per net, more than 51 000 lives have been given protection from malaria.
Long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLITN) are designed to cover beds, physically protecting people from mosquito bites, while the insecticide coatings repel, disable or kill the Anopheles mosquito, which carries malaria. Conventional insecticide treated mosquito nets need to be re-treated regularly, while LLITNs are designed to be effective without re-treatment for the life of the net – obviously of greater benefit in rural communities.
Through effective methods, such as LLITN, mortality rates have dropped significantly – by 54% in Africa in 2013, and many countries are on target to reduce malaria case incidence rates by 75%, by the end of 2015.
“In Africa, a child dies every minute of every day from the bloodsucking bite of the Anopheles mosquito,” says Kingsley Holgate. “That’s why World Malaria Day is so important. We need to sustain the gains, keep on saving lives and continue to invest in malaria control. But we can only achieve this if we all take up the fight against this silent killer.”