This Father’s Day I’ll be with my family at our home in London enjoying time together, maybe playing football, sharing a meal and listening to the latest news from my four children. Being a parent is very rewarding but as mums and dads everywhere know all too well, having kids certainly keeps you on your toes! We’re really lucky to live in a place where we can make sure our kids are well looked after.
I know that for many families around the world, it is very difficult as they live with the threat of serious diseases like malaria. This is not something that people in the UK or Italy need to think about, but in Africa it’s a daily threat to family life - malaria is a tragic and widespread killer, claiming the life of a child every two minutes. I’ve learned about malaria from my time in Sierra Leone and South Africa as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and also from my role on the Leadership Council with Malaria No More UK. It’s a privilege to support these charities who do such important work to protect vulnerable families around the world.
Having children and raising a family should be a special time to be enjoyed, but in parts of Africa, the day to day reality is that your wife or one of your children might well catch malaria through a simple, preventable mosquito bite and there’s nothing you can do about it, it must be awful. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live with this constant fear for your family as so many dads will be doing right now. If your child does catch malaria, they’ll need lifesaving medicine quickly. This can be a real problem if you don’t have much money and the closest hospital or clinic is miles away so you’ve got no choice but to walk there which can take days and by then it may be too late.
The good news is that malaria is a disease we know we can beat. Did you know that as a result of record investment into the malaria fight since 2000, child deaths around the world have been cut by 60%? I think that’s amazing.
This year, there’s a real opportunity to see this important progress continue as countries, including Italy make their new pledges to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. This is the world’s biggest funder of programmes to fight and ultimately end these three preventable killer diseases that have claimed untold loss of life.
Italy’s support has helped the Global Fund achieve extraordinary results with 17 million lives saved in last 14 years and now there is a real opportunity to get these devastating diseases under control. For malaria, that’s often through providing simple solutions like mosquito nets, malaria tests and medicines – things we would take for granted but in Africa mean the difference between life and death. What’s more, it costs less than a cup of coffee to treat malaria and help save a life, so funds invested go a very long way.
I hope all countries including Italy, will show leadership in the coming months with a strong pledge to save lives through the Global Fund, so that one day no father anywhere will lose his son or daughter to a preventable killer disease like malaria.