Buzz and Bite: PSA campaign against relentless malaria

We tried DDT for half a century. Now try PSA...

We tried DDT for half a century. Now try PSA...

Today is World Malaria Day. It’s a day to reflect on an ancient disease that continues to kill and sicken so many people in the majority (developing) world.

Malaria accounts for one death every 30 seconds. Malaria kills more than 1 million people every year. Each year, between 350 million and 500 million people are infected with malaria.

Malaria plagued Europe and North America as recently as 60 years ago. Simple public health measures were crucial to eliminating the disease and helping those regions achieve growth, prosperity and stability. Many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have yet to achieve this level of control.

Public health officials have been trying to contain and control malaria for decades, most measures targeting the malaria vector mosquitoes. In recent years, educators have joined hands — for stopping malaria begins with awareness on how it spreads and what simple measures can be taken to prevent it.

The Buzz and Bite Campaign is one such awareness tool launched a year ago on World Malaria Day 2008. It consists of a series of 30 animated shorts and 5 audio shorts called Public Service Announcements (PSAs).

The Buzz and Bite Campaign is the creation of Canadian animation producer and director Firdaus Kharas, working with a team of skilled professionals. Firdaus earlier took on another public health challenge, HIV/AIDS, through his highly popular animation series The Three Amigos.

Watch a sample Buzz and Bite Spot (in English, British Accent)

According to the Buzz and Bite website, PSAs have so far been produced in 22 languages, and are being adapted into more. “The goal is to enable a potential reach of 80% of the world’s malaria at-risk population or over 5 billion people in their own language.”

See all language versions on Buzz and Bite channel on YouTube

The PSAs are available to any television broadcaster, radio station, NGO, hospital, doctor, community group, university, school, educator or other user, free of charge, anywhere in the world.

The campaign is strongly supported by Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu.

Malaria has been eradicated in many parts of the world but continues to thrive and even grow in other parts, especially in tropical areas. “This anti-malaria campaign focuses on sub-Saharan Africa (where up to 90 per cent of all malaria fatalities occur), on South America, and on South and South-East Asia, where the rates of malaria are alarmingly high,” says the website, adding: “Malaria is preventable. The easiest and cheapest way to prevent malaria infection is through the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed-nets (LLINs) which can last up to 5 years. This campaign promotes the use of nets.”

You heard the buzz...Now get ready for bite!

You heard the buzz...Now get ready for bite!

Images and video courtesy Buzz and Bite campaign

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Syeda Rizwana Hasan: Keeping a sharp eye when ships come to die…

Syeda Rizwana Hasan: Goldman Prize winner 2009

Syeda Rizwana Hasan: Goldman Prize winner 2009

In Greek legend, Helen of Troy was the ‘face that launched a thousand ships’. Now meet Syeda Rizwana Hasan, a determined environmental activist who keeps dozens of ships from coming to die on the beaches of her native Bangladesh.

Rizwina is an environmental lawyer who is working hard to reduce the impact of Bangladesh’s exploitative and environmentally-devastating ship breaking industry. She has spearheaded a legal battle resulting in increased government regulation and heightened public awareness about the dangers of ship breaking. For this, she has just been honoured as the Asia winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize 2009.

Ship breaking is a lucrative yet highly hazardous business. Decommissioned ships from around the world are sent to Bangladesh, where they are dismantled by hand on the beaches by unskilled workers who are often paid less than one dollar per day. Lacking in sufficient mineral deposits for metal mining, Bangladesh relies on the iron and other materials from the ships for some of its metal. The scrap metal, along with other parts of the ships — including sinks, toilets, beds, appliances, and light bulbs — are resold in huge open markets lining the roads of Chittagong, the main ship breaking region.

Ship-breaking is done by around 20,000 workers – mostly young men, some as young as 14, who come from the northern parts of Bangladesh. They are paid very little, housed in the most basic of shelters, and provided with little or no medical care. It is estimated that, on average, one ship breaking worker dies at the yards in Bangladesh every week and every day one worker is injured.

Read the full profile on Rizwana Hasan on the Goldman Prize website

Watch short video film on Rizwana Hasan:

Rizwana Hasan, 40, is a lawyer and Executive Director of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), a public interest law firm. Growing up in a politically-engaged family, Hasan committed herself to public service and, after receiving her master’s degree in law at age 24, joined BELA. She soon became one of the country’s leading voices for the environment. Today, she manages six offices with nearly 60 staff and is one of the leading young lawyers enrolled with the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.

The Goldman Environmental Prize, now in its 20th year, is awarded annually to grassroots environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions and is the largest award of its kind with an individual cash prize of $150,000. This year’s prizes were awarded in San Francisco on 20 April 2009.

The 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize recipients are a group of fearless grassroots leaders taking on government and corporate interests and working to improve the environment for people in their communities. Other winners this year came from Gabon, Indonesia, Russia, Suriname and USA.

Watch all prize winners profiled on video

Photo and video courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize