It’s the 21st Century – yet hundreds of thousands of people are still dying from malaria, the world’s oldest and deadliest disease that reportedly killed Alexander the Great in 323BC.

According to the 2022 World Health Organization report, the total number of malaria cases reached 247 million with 620 000 deaths, a frightening increase since 2019 – caused in part by the global Covid-19 pandemic that saw essential funding and resources being shifted to fighting Covid-19. As in past years, the African continent shouldered more than 90% of the overall burden.

A child dies every two minutes around the clock from the blood-sucking bite of the Anopheles mosquito. Pregnant women are also at high risk.

Malaria is a formidable foe and it’s always lurking, especially in the low-lying, high-rainfall areas where our Land Rover humanitarian journeys often take us. Kingsley has had malaria more than 50 times and the rest of our expedition team have also suffered plenty of bouts; most recently, all six expedition members went down with life-threatening malaria during the Defender Transcontinental Expedition’s journey through Africa. When you have personally suffered from the agony and discomfort of malaria, sometimes not sure if you’re going to live through it – and, on one occasion, a desperately ill villager dying of malaria in one of our expedition Land Rovers as we raced him to the nearest hospital – you definitively know first-hand, the devastating impact of this disease and why’s it’s also referred to as ‘the silent killer’.

This is why malaria prevention remains our biggest humanitarian project and we adhere to the World Health Organisation’s three most important malaria prevention techniques:
1) Education.
2) Insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
3) Indoor residual spraying.

On all our expeditions, we distribute long-lasting, insecticide-treated PermaNet mosquito nets manufactured by world-leaders Vestergaard to pregnant women and mothers with children under the age of 5 years who are the most vulnerable. This always takes place hand-in-hand with malaria prevention education to communities in the relevant local languages and a demonstration on how to use and care for the mosquito nets, before they are given directly to each beneficiary.

To date – using our own funds initially and now with the support of our expedition partners – the Kingsley Holgate Foundation has distributed over 466,000 mosquito nets to pregnant women and mothers of young children in high-risk communities throughout Africa – directly protecting 1,4 million lives.

‘Tchau Tchau Malaria’ (in Portuguese) is a region-wide indoor residual spraying campaign to protect people living in southern Mozambique, and stop the spread of malaria into neighbouring Eswatini and the KwaZulu-Natal and Kruger National Park regions of South Africa. 60% of the 3,000 permanently employed sprayers are women and more than 3million people are protected from malaria every year.

Pioneered by Nando’s and supported by the Global Fund to fight HIV, TB and Malaria and the Mozambique Ministry of Health, the Kingsley Holgate Foundation is a proud partner in this ground-breaking initiative, assisting Nando’s and the Goodbye Malaria teams to raise global awareness and deliver important messages that can save lives.

When on expedition, our work alongside the Goodbye Malaria indoor-residual spraying teams in Mozambique includes malaria education in the local languages of Shangaan and Portuguese and using ‘Malaria Art’ lessons to reach thousands of school children in high-risk communities. Plus, by using the energy of soccer, we take the fight to the playing fields through Goodbye Malaria Soccer Trophy challenges, which draw entire communities to malaria prevention events, allowing a life-saving message to be spread even further.

“It’s like a thud to the heart when you get to a village and a mother is screaming, not knowing what to do – her child dying from malaria and the nearest clinic over 100 kilometres away by dugout canoe.” Kingsley Holgate