by Elizabeth McKee
Director, Nothing But Nets
Today, April 25th, is the first time the United States will officially observe National Malaria Awareness Day. The President is hosting an event at the White House to commemorate what has been celebrated by the rest of the world as Africa Malaria Day since 2001. A forgotten disease that was eradicated in the United States, malaria affects over 500 million individuals a year, killing a child in Africa every 30 seconds. The United Nations has made this issue a priority, listing it as one of the Millennium Development Goals and stating the need to halt and reverse the incidence of malaria. Shrinking Africa’s economy by $12 billion a year, malaria is one of the main causes of poverty. Ironically, one of the most cost-effective and simple approaches to combat malaria is through the use of inexpensive insecticide-treated bed nets, which can prevent malaria transmission by at least 50 percent.
The President’s Malaria Initiative has pledged $1.2 billion to the prevention and treatment of malaria. The Global Fund has committed to $2.6 billion. My grandmother in Texas donated $10 to the prevention of malaria through Nothing But Nets. We all have a role to play and Nothing But Nets makes it simple for individuals to make a difference.
Nothing But Nets is a global, grassroots campaign to prevent malaria. Inspired by Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly, the Campaign was created by the United Nations Foundation in 2006. The National Basketball Association’s NBA Cares, The People of the United Methodist Church and Major League Soccer have joined the campaign and helped to raise over $5 million. A $10 donation covers the cost of purchasing, distributing and educating families on the proper use of a bed net.
Today the Campaign is kicking off a multi-city tour in Miami to bring the issue of malaria to Americans everywhere. Even American Idol is getting behind this issue through tonight’s unprecedented television special, Idol Gives Back. Tonight viewers will have the opportunity to make donations throughout the show.
You too can get involved by Sending a Net and Saving a Life. $10 saves a life, maybe two, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will match it dollar for dollar. After all, if the Secretary General, Simon Cowell, and my grandmother is behind this issue, you too can join in on this special day. Visit www.NothingButNets.net and donate your own life saving dollars.