Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 144, Issue 52

Thursday, April 17, 2008
The Honourable Rose-Marie Losier-Cool, Speaker pro tempore

World Malaria Day

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, April 25 is World Malaria Day. It has been said that malaria is a genocide of apathy that knows no boundaries. This illness will take the life of one in five African children before their fifth birthday. Millions of people are dying and hundreds of millions are falling ill, all from a preventable disease spread by a mosquito bite during the night.

Although World Malaria Day has not been formally acknowledged at the federal level, Canadian municipalities and provinces across our nation have taken a leadership role. There have been many stories from across Canada of towns, cities and communities formally acknowledging this day and raising awareness as well as funds to provide insecticide-treated bed nets for African villages. With their actions they have proven this is not a disease of apathy — Canadians care.

There are stories from the West Coast in B.C. Examples that come immediately to mind are the efforts of Nanaimo Mayor Gary Korpan, as well as Mayors Jack Mar and Frank Leonard of the Districts of Saanich. They have all proclaimed April 25 World Malaria Day.

On the East Coast I am particularly moved by the efforts of Mayor Lee in Charlottetown who sent his World Malaria Day proclamation to every community in the province and encouraged them to take up the challenge of netting a village.

Globally, world leaders like the Right Honourable Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, have launched campaigns such as the Call to Action on the Millennium Development Goals, bringing together governments, NGOs, businesses, faith groups and civil societies from across the world to get the Millennium Development Goals back on track.

Honourable senators, World Malaria Day is an opportunity for malaria-free countries like Canada to learn about the devastating consequences of the disease and for new donors to join a global partnership against malaria. It is an occasion for research and academic institutions to flag their scientific advances to both experts and the general public. It is a chance for countries in affected regions to learn from each other’s experiences and to back each other’s efforts. It is an opportunity for international partners, companies and foundations to showcase their results and reflect together on how to scale up what has been proven to work.

In Canada, World Malaria Day should be a day of reflection. We should ask ourselves what else we should or could be doing as a country to combat this killer, one of the largest contributing factors to African poverty. Given Canadian citizens’ impressive success with bed net programs and the desperate need of millions of poor people for protection from the ravages of malaria, we need to ask ourselves what more we can do. For every $6 that is spent on a net, four African lives are saved, and this is a wise investment of Canadian aid dollars. We need to do more to fight this disease.

Honourable senators, this is a preventable disease and it is in the hands of all of us to make a difference.