by Nina Pine and Rachel Finn, Faiths Act Fellows for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation
While the two of us have been planning the San Francisco CROP Hunger Walk as our World Malaria Day Event, often we are asked the question, “Why are you supporting malaria prevention efforts at a hunger walk? Isn’t that a conflict of interest?”
The fact of the matter is, however, that malaria and hunger are incredibly intertwined. Just check out this video [http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Delivering food to a community in need is a noble act. It is a life-saving act. And yet unfortunately, it is not a sustainable act. Extreme hunger worldwide is not caused by a lack of food, but rather, systemic social corruption and flawed distribution. To change the narrative on hunger, we must change the systems of power and the societal structures in which communities live. To do so is a daunting task, and incredibly complex.
Yet, one effective step we can tangibly make is on the issue of malaria. Malaria is a disease of poverty – it has been eradicated in parts of the world with access to needed finances, such as here in California. Malaria is both treatable and preventable. And yet, a child still dies every 60 seconds from this deadly disease. It is less a problem of complexity than a lack of resources.
Malaria prevention, elimination, and hopefully one day, eradication, are excellent goals in and of themselves. And yet, the ripple effect from treating it has far larger reaches. It improves education, because children do not miss days of school due to severe illness. It improves maternal health by significantly decreasing the number of deaths in pregnant women. Perhaps most importantly, malaria elimination would drastically improve the situation of extreme hunger around the globe. Individuals will not have to miss days of harvesting crops due to illness. Families will not have to decide whether to spend their money on medicine for a sick child, or food for the rest. Men, women, and children will have the strength they need to fight against the societal blockades keeping them impoverished.
We hope you’ll support us this World Malaria Day in taking a holistic approach to tackling extreme poverty, by recognizing the interconnectedness of problems around the world. Please visit cropwalksf.org to learn more about our Walk and how to be a supporter.
Will you walk with us?