This may seem a ridiculous question. With 280 million people diseased every year, and 850.000 deaths, how can one argue that malaria is not important?
But maybe it isn't. This morning I wrote a blog titled 'Stuck in a pyramid of needs', where I used the famous 'Hierarchy of Needs' management model of Abraham Maslow to shed light on the complexity of development in a broad sense.
Concern about malaria follows when people are capable of satisfying the needs of the bottom of the pyramid. Only when they have access to food, water, shelter and safety, will they get concerned about health. It's no different with malaria. And we know it.
I have always been amazed at those that argue that bednets can't be afforded by the poor. Such stories always come to mind when I am in the middle of nowhere, in some small village, and see men buying endless rounds of beers for their friends. In one evening that's several bednets...
People want and invest in mobile telephones and scratch cards. The need is there and they fulfil that need. Why do we have to dish out nets for free?
Another devil lies in the fact that malaria doesn't always kill. It's (semi)immunity that spoils efforts to raise the importance of malaria. It's like Europeans suffering from the flu once a year. We live through it, we even anticipate it. So it goes for malaria. 'Perhaps we're lucky this year and won't get it'. Malaria is like throwing the dice. School uniforms, in contrast, need hard cash. So that becomes the priority.
That malaria doesn't receive the highest priority is reflected in the recent press articles that tell us that we're still far from reaching the MDGs. Richard Tren highlighted the example of a Ugandan warehouse filled with antimalarials but clinics throughout the country being empty. Priority is the key word here.
And so, creating awareness is perhaps more important than I would previously believe...