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When people think of health and welfare in Africa, they think of AIDS, famine, poverty, and hundreds of other killers that bring death and hardship to the continent. But they hardly ever think of malaria. “It’s not a problem anymore,” they say. “We’ve been treating it for over 100 years…”

And yet it is still a problem – a HUGE problem.

The disease, which is spread by mosquitoes, causes a drawn-out and painful death. It destroys red blood cells and clogs the tiny capillaries that carry blood to the brain and other organs – a horrible way to die in anyone’s books. And it is killing as you read this – an African child dies of the disease every 30 seconds. That’s 3,000 children a day… over 1 million a year. In addition to the devastating human toll, the African economy loses over $12 billion in productivity due to the disease annually.

Malaria No More is an organization with one simple mission: to stop all malaria deaths. Established in 2006 at the first-ever White House Summit on Malaria, the organization uses contributions from the public to fund the provision of bed nets, sprays, anti-malaria drugs, education, and also the development of a vaccine to achieve its aim. Founded by a group of organizations such as the American Red Cross, UNICEF, United Way, Millennium Promise, the Global Fund, the United Nations Foundation, and the Global Business Coalition, Malaria No More also supports the President’s Malaria Initiative, a $1.2 billion, 5 year campaign launched by President Bush in 2005 to cut malaria deaths in Africa by 50%.

Malaria No More recently benefited from Idol Gives Back, the special American Idol show that raised money for a variety of organizations both in America and overseas. It is still too early to know exactly how much Malaria No More will get of the $60 million raised by this year’s show, but the music extravaganza donated $9 million to the organization in 2007, and another $8 million to other malaria-related causes. Idol host Ryan Seacrest and Idol judge Simon Cowell, along with Idol performers, have visited Africa and seen the devastation of the disease, and last month 2007 Idol winner Jordin Sparks joined President Bush in Ghana to highlight malaria control efforts.

“I was shocked to learn of the devastation caused by malaria,” said Sparks. “It’s incredible what a difference a simple mosquito net can make in the life of a child.”

The organization, whose spokespeople include David Beckham and Ashley Judd, has also launched an exciting way for schools to join in the fight against malaria and empower students to be active in raising money and saving lives. Stayin’ Alive was created by a group of high school students in Florida, and encourages schools and students to hold fundraising dances. By dedicating a dance, or series of dances, to Malaria No More – and committing to a $1,000 donation from the proceeds – schools everywhere can play a significant role in eradicating malaria.

Malaria No More aims to partner with 10,000 Stayin’ Alive dances throughout America over the next three years. This will provide over $10 million in funds – enough to pay for $1 million bed nets to protect at least 2 million children.

To learn more about the initiative, visit the Stayin’ Alive website.

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