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Katharine McPhee Working to End Malaria

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Actress and singer Katharine McPhee has come a long way from her “American Idol” days. Not only does she have a new TV show kicking off this year, she has also become a spokesperson for Malaria No More, an organization that works to “end deaths due to malaria.”

According to the World Health Organization, malaria deaths were at an all time low in 2010, with the number of deaths totaling 655,000. That’s still a huge number, and thanks to funding issues, it could be going back up. And that’s why McPhee is stepping in.

“There remains a misconception about what [malaria] actually is and that it’s entirely preventable,” says McPhee. “What the message needs to be is that we can get rid of this. A 10-dollar donation for a mosquito net helps. It’s the simplest thing you can do. You can leave it up to MNM to ensure that the nets are really getting to the actual people in Africa.”

According to Dr. Robert Newman, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Program, “Millions of bed nets will need replacement in the coming years and the goal of universal access to diagnostic testing and effective treatment remains far from being realized. We need to act with urgency and resolve to ensure that no one dies from malaria for lack of a five-dollar bed net, one-dollar anti-malarial drug and a 50-cent diagnostic test.”

McPhee will also be putting her money where her mouth is, so to speak, this spring. She plans to visit Africa in March to provide hands-on help. “I’ll be involved in helping people, especially the young, get vaccinated and helping put mosquito nets up. I provided the financing for a little school with two classrooms in Burkina Faso (West Africa). The woman who runs the school actually came down with malaria and was very sick for several months. I’d love to go back and see the see the school in person and meet her.”

For more on McPhee’s fight against malaria, check out her interview with USA TODAY.

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