Holgate and his team, in a convoy of two Land Rover Discovery's and a Defender 130, known as the United Against Malaria 'mothership', are currently undertaking the Great African Rift Valley Expedition. One of its primary objectives is combating one of the biggest killers in the world: malaria.
As the world commemorates World Malaria Day on 25 April, Holgate's team is well into their 12 month, nine chapter odyssey to malaria-stricken countries throughout Africa. Globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria and 655 000 deaths are claimed by malaria each year according to the latest statistics, 90% of which occur on African soil.
While the statics are dire, malaria is a treatable and preventable disease. Simple tools like treated mosquito nets, effective medicines and safe indoor spraying can save lives.
"I know what it is like, I've had malaria well over 40 times," explains Holgate. "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 - two days by dugout to the nearest clinic. And to think these lives can be saved by a simple mosquito net."
Malaria disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable. Primarily, young children and pregnant women in Africa are more likely to be exposed to infection due to lower immunity levels and limited access to malaria prevention, treatment, and control measures.
The clear objective of the Great African Rift Valley expedition is to use adventure to improve and save lives through a continued link to the United Against Malaria partnership. Holgate's convoy of Land Rovers moves from the northern point in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi, to its most southern point near Gorongosa in Mozambique. The chapter by chapter malaria-prevention activities include:
Soccer-themed United Against Malaria Trophy Challenge events.
Malaria prevention education together with the careful distribution of long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets to pregnant mothers and to mothers with children under the age of five years.
A United Against Malaria prevention education initiative to schools that includes colouring-in books and posters.
United Against Malaria research and report back forms include community details, GPS co-ordinates, names of community leaders, numbers of nets distributed, details of malaria risk and closest clinics or hospitals ensuring sustainability and follow-up.
United Against Malaria prevention Land Rovers are fitted with PA systems and trained local malaria prevention educators are used to inform and educate communities.
"In Africa, malaria deaths have been reduced by more than 30%, but still a child dies every minute of every day from the bloodsucking bite of the Anopheles mosquito. That's why World Malaria Day is so important. We need to sustain the gains, keep on saving lives and continue to invest in malaria control, so as to achieve the millennium development goals of near zero deaths from malaria by 2015. But we can only achieve this if we all take up the fight against this silent killer," concludes Holgate.
You can show your support by purchasing a United Against Malaria bracelet from your nearest Cape Union Mart store, Nandos outlet or participating Exclusive Books stores.