In Africa, malaria-carrying mosquitoes are active mostly at night, and a $10 insecticide-treated bed net can help protect a child for 5 years. Right now, something remarkable is happening in Uganda. The President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and a coalition of nonprofit organizations are distributing 570,000 bed nets in rural villages. When this project is completed next month, 50% of Uganda's young children and mothers will be protected. And, later this year, a similar public-private coalition will distribute 1.5 million bed nets in Madagascar, providing protection for just about 100% of the nation'ung children.
Although the ultimate weapon--a vaccine against malaria--is still on the horizon, and better drugs for treatment are needed as well, a tremendous amount can be accomplished right now through the use of bed nets and other available remedies. What's been missing is the will to use what we know. As a result, more than 1 million African children die of malaria each year, most under the age of 5 (young children and pregnant women are the two most vulnerable groups).
This Wednesday, April 25, is the first-ever Malaria Awareness Day in the U.S. For $10, you can buy a bed net for an African child. Ask ten friends to do the same. Organizations such as the Red Cross will deliver the bed nets to villages in rural Africa, using paid staff and an army of volunteers. It's all included in the $10. A new nonprofit, called Malaria No More, is mobilizing a large-scale grassroots effort to raise funds for the purchase and delivery of bed nets. Companies, church groups, and students across the U.S. are getting involved. Even Fox's American Idol is getting into the act with a special fundraiser called Idol Gives Back which airs this week on Thursday and Friday evenings. To learn more about the campaign, and to buy a bed net, go to www.MalariaNoMore.org.