London, 18 March 2011: Red Nose Day is back. After two years away, Comic Relief is encouraging people in the UK to beat 2009’s incredible total of £82.3 million by raising or donating money to fund projects to support the poorest and most in need in the UK and the developing world. This appeal culminates in an evening of TV that mixes humour and fun with serious films to support the appeal.
Following Comic Relief success in 2009, this year’s appeal once again highlights malaria and the importance of reaching as many people as possible who are at risk from the disease in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2009, UK celebrities climbed Kilimanjaro and raised over £3.5 million while also showing the public the devastating effects of malaria. Comic Relief highlighted the importance of sustained support and funding, and demonstrated how as little as £5 can pay for a long lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) to protect two children from malaria for up to three years.
Comic Relief used money from that appeal to support a four year Malaria Consortium project - Pioneer - in five districts across mid-Western Uganda, covering a population of approximately 1.5 million.
In Western Uganda, malaria accounts for around 23 percent of deaths in children under-five. Pioneer aims to reduce malaria associated mortality and morbidity in this region by rapidly increasing coverage of life saving interventions that have a dramatic impact on malaria. The project ensures that the best tools are accessible to the people who need them the most.
Pioneer has already distributed 600,000 LLINs and the intention is that by increasing the number of households using these nets every night, the mosquito density in the area will be significantly reduced. The project also aims to reduce the number of young children suffering from malaria every year, as well as increase the number of referrals for those with severe malaria to health facilities and hospitals. Pioneer also works to ensure children suffering from severe malaria receive emergency life-saving drugs at the community level.
For those who have viewed this year’s Comic Relief videos, rapid diagnostic tests for malaria are clearly a critical new tool. A delayed or inaccurate diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death for many children in rural areas. These tests can show whether an individual has malaria in 15 minutes. A correct diagnosis can help ensure the patient receives malaria treatment only when necessary and that other causes of fever are also identified and treated. Rapid diagnostic tests not only save lives, but save money and reduce the likelihood of drug-resistance.
The Pioneer project, with the support of the British public through Comic Relief, has already had a significant and positive effect on the lives of so many people in Western Uganda.
This year, Comic Relief will again be raising money to support projects to reduce avoidable suffering from malaria. You can visit the Comic Relief website to find out more about what you can do. You can also find out more about Malaria Consortium’s Comic Relief project, Pioneer.
If you would like to help support our work to combat malaria and save lives in Uganda or in other parts of Africa, please visit our Support Us page to find out how or click the donate button.
For more information, please contact Diana Thomas [email protected].