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“A disease of poverty caused by poverty”

Often we think of a house as a place to keep us out of the wind and the rain, but a house can also help to prevent diseases in many parts of the world.

Malaria is one such disease.

According to a 2006 article published in Malaria Journal, better housing can be an important, though often neglected, factor in reducing risk of infection. Among a list of risk factors — biological, physical environment, health care systems and socio-economic conditions — the design of a house significantly affects the incidence of infection.

A study conducted in Sri Lanka found that living in a completed house with brick and plaster walls and tiled or sheet roofing and making use of bed nets or window screens provides the first line of defense against infection.

As part of Habitat for Humanity’s holistic support for orphans and vulnerable groups, we work in concert with an array of partners to help reduce malaria infection rates by providing healthy shelter and treated mosquito nets, among other services, to families in Mozambique, Zambia, Lesotho, Uganda, Madagascar and Cote d’Ivoire.

Defining malaria as “a disease of poverty caused by poverty,” the World Health Organization reports that every year approximately 250 million clinical malaria cases — in most cases preventable — are reported, with about 1 million deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite significant progress made over the last decade to prevent infection, malaria remains a leading cause of death among young children and pregnant women.

Today, as people across the globe take part in a wide range of activities to mark World Malaria Day 2013, we are at work in countries where malaria is an everyday threat. With your support, our efforts help more families live healthier lives.

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