Posts Tagged ‘Commonwealth’

Me and My Net Winner’s Reflections

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Fifteen year old Siya Kulkarni, from India, was the winner of the 2011 Me and My Net competition. Her prize was a packed visit to London, during Commonwealth Week 2012. Below, Siya reflects on her experiences during the week and how it has had an impact on her understanding of the global challenge of malaria:

The week of March 10th-15th was an exciting yet enriching experience for me. It all started of with my winning the Me And My Net competition, and receiving the news this January about a trip to London. I was thrilled to bits, because my trip was to be scheduled around Commonwealth Day, celebrated on March 12th, and I was to be a flag bearer for my country, India, at the Observance at Westminster Abbey. I’d also be presenting my winning entry, a campaign that targeted children to raise awareness about using nets to prevent malaria.

Siya presenting at the Commonwealth Nurses Conference

Siya presenting at the Commonwealth Nurses Conference

March 11th was the beginning of an eventful week. This was the day I was to present my campaign at the Commonwealth Nurses Conference, and although I was awfully edgy about how it would go, the nurses made me feel so at-home that I didn’t worry about muddling my speech.
The next day was the focus of my week, something I’d been looking forward to: the Commonwealth Day Observance. For me this was a great platform for interacting with different people. Of course, the most exciting part of the day was seeing Her Majesty The Queen! All of us were thrilled when she passed by us, and it was, undeniably, a memorable day.

Siya with the Malaria No More UK team
Siya with the Malaria No More UK team

The day after Commonwealth day was going to be chock-a-block again. I was scheduled to visit the Malaria No More office to discuss my campaign in the morning. I was amazed by how creative campaigns could get in terms of raising awareness, when I heard about their campaigns. After a tête-à-tête with the team, we left for The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to visit their insectaries, where we were taken through small “caves” where the malaria-spreading insects were bred. It was fascinating to see the variety of mosquito species from different parts of the world. That evening, I presented my campaign once more, this time to people from Sumitomo Chemical, representatives from malaria and education organisations and two nurses from the Nurses Conference. I enjoyed talking to everyone there. That day, despite being tiring, was extremely fruitful.

Siya with her winning campaign
Siya with her winning campaign

The RCS had organized a tour of the Houses of Parliament the following morning through the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, and I had the opportunity to witness the Prime Minister’s Question Time. Although the Prime Minister was overseas at the time, we watched the Deputy Prime Minister battle with the questions.

Looking back at my week in London, I feel a sense of achievement I have never felt before. This was an experience I would cherish forever, because I learnt so much, and enjoyed myself thoroughly. I felt more confident, more aware and humbled after discovering how little I knew about other Commonwealth nations, and what a serious problem malaria is. Right from the time I started working on this competition, till the end of my week in London, I have had a series of experiences that I hope will make me into a more mature and broad-minded person. I sincerely thank the RCS for giving me such a wonderful learning opportunity.

Take a look at how Siya got involved in the competition and developed her campaign by downloading her presentation and check out all the Me and My Net winning entries.

Me and My Net Winner’s Week, 10-15 March 2012

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Me and My Net Wrap-up Event
Me and My Net Wrap-up Event: l-r Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Royal Commonwealth Society; Siya Kulkarni, Winner Me and My Net 2011; Adam Flynn, Sumitomo Chemical, in front of some of the entries

Fifteen year old Siya Kulkarni, from India, was in London for Commonwealth Week 2012, as her prize as the Winner of Me and My Net 2011, supported by Sumitomo Chemical’s Olyset Net.

During the week, Siya represented her country by carrying the Indian flag at the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey.  She also visited Malaria No More UK, to find out about their malaria awareness campaigns, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to see the insectaries and hear about the scientific work around malaria prevention.  With thanks to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, Siya also had the opportunity to tour the Houses of Parliament and witness Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons.

Siya presented her winning campaign to the Commonwealth Nurses Conference, which was attended by nearly 200 delegates from 27 Commonwealth countries.  She also presented at a Me and My Net reception for the malaria community in London.  She said: “Although I come from India I was very ignorant about the impact that malaria has upon people in affected areas and was shocked by the scale of the problem. I was also struck by how easy it is to protect people with a net as opposed to using sprays or drugs. It is such a simple solution and yet, as a young person, I also know that we do not like being told what to do. I knew that my campaign had to find incentives for young people as a way to engage with them and encourage them to use their nets.

“I decided to split my Kids for Nets campaign to appeal to two age groups and used rhymes and the idea of decorating their nets to engage the 4-10 year-olds; whilst I wanted to show the young adult 11-15 year-olds that their future health and, therefore, their dreams for their future could be threatened.”

The Commonwealth Nurses Federation made a donation to Siya, which will be used to purchase Olyset Nets for distribution in Tanzania.

See Siya’s winning entry, and other award winners, at

Malaria in Sri Lanka

Thursday, April 14th, 2011


Sri Lanka's flag and location off the coast of India.

Commonwealth Ranking: 26
World Ranking: 81
Population: 20 million
Life expectancy: 74.1 years
Reported malaria cases per year: 558
Notified cases per 100,000: 21
Deaths caused by malaria per year: 0
Households owning at least one net: 70%
Under 5s sleeping under nets: 70%

Before World War Two, Sri Lanka suffered from over 3 million annual cases of malaria. Today, just 558 Sri Lankans are effected by the disease each year. With a population of over 20 million, only 4.9 million – less than a quarter of the island’s population – live in malarious areas, and zero fatalities were reported last year. However, the situation in Sri Lanka has been volatile. Following the launch of an eradication programme in the 1950s, the country rejoiced in having reduced the number of annual cases from 3 million to just a handful. However, throughout the 1960s and 70s, Sri Lanka struggled to contain outbreaks of the disease. It is only in the last decade that the country has seen a steady decline in cases of malaria. Even so, late last year, officials reported a 25% increase in reported cases.

Did you know?

Sri Lanka has appeared on the point of abolishing malaria several times since its first eradication campaign in the 1950s, but the country is yet to fully defeat the disease.

Malaria in Nigeria

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Commonwealth Ranking:  1
World Ranking:  6
Population size:  154 million
Life expectancy:  46.5 years
Reported malaria cases per year:  Approx 3 million
Notified cases per 100,000 people:  38,259
Deaths of under 5s caused by malaria per year:  250,000
Households owning at least one net:  8%
Under 5s sleeping under nets:  6%
Under 5s with fever receiving anti-malarial drugs:  33%

Nigeria is the worst Commonwealth country for malaria, according to instances of the disease every year. The West African nation has a population of over 150 million, and a life expectancy of just 46.5 years. Malaria is one of the biggest causes of death, particularly amongst children, and accounts for over 60% of visits to clinics and hospitals.

The fight against malaria is expensive. Malaria prevention and treatment costs the developing nation 132 billion Naira (£500 million) every year. However, just 8% of households currently own a mosquito net. The government has been working with the World Bank, World Health Organisation, UNDP and UNICEF on a campaign to “Roll Back Malaria”. Today, Nigeria is working hard to create an effective strategy to control malaria, but the country is still a long way from defeating the disease.

At the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Nigerian table tennis player Ekundayo Nasiru had to pull out of the men’s singles competition when he fell ill with malaria. More than 1,000 cases of malaria, including three deaths, were reported in the Indian capital over the summer. However, Nasiru could have contracted the disease in his home country where over 3 million cases are diagnosed every year. Left with just four fit players, Nigeria’s men’s team was unable to defend their title from the 2006 Melbourne Games where they won gold.

Sources: 1 / 2 / 3

You and Your Net

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

As part of the Me and My Net we are running a fantastic competition, with the chance to win a digital camera and computer equipment, or even a trip to London for you and a guardian.

All you have to do is this:

Take a photograph – or draw a picture – of you or a friend with a mosquito net. Then tell us a little about the picture and the net in it.

To enter you can:

Below are some beautiful photographs (©M. Hallahan / Olyset) to give you some inspiration.

Anyone can take part, but to be in with a chance to win, you must be under 18 years old and from (or living in) a Commonwealth country. All the rules are here in full.

We’d like to post your photographs in our new gallery, so please enter soon!

Mary Suffers from Malaria in Kenya

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

A photo of Mary poorly with malaria in Kenya

Mary Greer is from the UK and works at the RCS coordinating international youth projects, including Me and My Net.  She tells us about her experience of getting malaria last year.

It happened to me on a safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. I first suspected something was up when I spent a whole night in our camp imagining someone was crouched outside our tent slowly unzipping the entrance. Having spent the evening with my teeth chattering, I was suddenly burning up. In the morning I felt much better, but when I joined my friends for breakfast, it turns out I certainly wasn’t looking any better: ‘What’s wrong with your face?’. It was red and swollen from the fever that was raging as my body tried to fight off the parasites in my blood. Our guide seemed unconcerned, ‘Oh sorry, but you will be fine, I have had it many times’.

At first my friend refused to read aloud the section on malaria in our guidebook. I had all the symptoms. Luckily a doctor was stationed at one of the upmarket lodges inside the park. On our way into the interior I sat huddled in a corner of the van, covering my head from the sun as my companions ‘oooohed’ and ‘aaaaahed’ at the wildlife surrounding us. One small prick of my finger revealed I did indeed have malaria, but ‘only moderate’. ONLY?! I had been living in Rwanda for 6 months, during which time I had taken my anti-malarial tablet every day, without fail. Had I not done this, said the Doctor, I may well have been in far more danger than I was. I was given a very painful injection and a cocktail of drugs, and luckily I had just a few days before returning to the UK.

On the flight home, crunched up in a ball and longing for my bed, I tried to pinpoint which mosquito got me. Was it at the hostel in Nairobi where the window had been left open at dusk and mosquitoes had filled my room, or in a Ugandan village where the home I was staying in had just one net, and this was full of holes. It’s hard to tell. But what I do know is I feel lucky to have had access to the medication I needed.

What do you think of Mary’s story?  Have you also suffered from malaria?  What was it like?  Please do share your thoughts with us by commenting on this post, or (if you are under 18) by entering our competition.