Step up malaria battle, urges movie master Richard Curtis
"Four Weddings and a Funeral" screenwriter Richard Curtis on Tuesday urged the world to do more to stop malaria, saying "simple" solutions existed to prevent the disease which claims 650,000 lives a year, mostly in Africa.
"The death of a child in Africa from malaria is as brutal and ghastly as anything you can imagine happening to your own children," Curtis, who has campaigned against malaria for a decade, told a news conference at the United Nations offices in Geneva.
"The extraordinary thing about malaria is that the solutions are very simple, in terms of the mosquito nets, in terms of the rapid diagnostic kits," he said.
Curtis, who also wrote "Notting Hill" and "Bridget Jones's Diary", co-founded British charity Comic Relief after visiting famine-stricken Ethiopia in 1985.
He is a leading supporter of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, launched in 1998 by the United Nations and World Bank to defeat the mosquito-borne disease.
Curtis wrote a TV movie entitled "Mary and Martha", about two mothers who lose their sons to the disease.
Since its release in March, the film funded by US channel HBO and the BBC has been shown in 50 countries around the world.
About 3.3 billion people -- half of the world's population -- live in malaria-risk countries.
The disease is the leading cause of death for children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa.
Increased prevention and control measures, however, have led to a reduction in malaria mortality rates by more than 25 percent globally since 2000 and by 33 percent in Africa.
© 2013 AFP