I recently learned that malaria is the number one cause of death in Cameroon among children under five. Moreover, malaria is now responsible for over 40% of deaths in health care facilities across the country. This means that thousands of children -- as well as adults -- in this West African country die each year from an easily preventable disease.
Next week, I am traveling to Cameroon to support the Cameroonian government's upcoming campaign to distribute mosquito nets to individuals and families nationwide.
I've written before about the importance of mosquito nets, in that they're a simple way to save lives. People in Cameroon have seen what happens without nets -- in the last five years, malaria rates in Cameroon have skyrocketed because of a lack of malaria prevention tools.
On August 22, Cameroon is launching its first-ever country-wide net distribution. Through a universal coverage approach, many countries in Africa have seen malaria rates plummet. This large-scale distribution of 8.6 million nets in Cameroon is a crucial step in reaching the UN goal of ending malaria deaths by 2015.
To make sure Cameroon gets the nets it needs as quickly as possible, many partners are jumping in to help--including the UN Foundation's Nothing But Nets, UNICEF, my organization PSI, Plan International, and the Global Fund, which has been funding the majority of malaria-prevention tools in Cameroon since 2004.
One insecticide-treated bed net can protect two people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Sending a net costs only $10, but for many people in Cameroon, that's too expensive. That's why PSI is working with Nothing But Nets and UNICEF to make sure we are able to raise enough funds to ensure the launch of the national net distribution on August 22nd.
Just $10 covers the cost of buying a net, delivering it, and educating communities on its importance and proper use. These bed nets do more than just protect families from mosquito bites -- they can keep an entire community healthy. Insecticide is woven into the nets, killing mosquitoes on contact to ensure they can't fly on to bite anyone else. Bed nets also last for up to three years, so your gift will have a lasting effect in keeping a community healthy.
Last year, thousands of people came together to cover the Central African Republic with nearly one million nets, and I got the opportunity to see the smiles on the faces of the families who received them. Later this month, I'm traveling to Cameroon to see how this movement is helping families there as well. Go to www.NothingButNets.net to send a net and save a life today. Together we can cover a continent.