Amid the headlines that dominate the news in health scares, malaria seldom breaks the airwaves in the developed world. However, it is one of the most oldest, deadliest diseases in the world. There are more than 200 million reported cases of malaria each year, resulting in approximately 600,000 deaths worldwide.
In fact, malaria was a major concern in the US until about 1951 — not too long ago. It’s a little-known fact that the CDC was initially established to combat malaria in the United States.
The disease is a particular threat to pregnant women and children under 5, whose compromised immune systems make them extra susceptible to contracting the disease. In fact, a child dies every 2 minutes from this disease.
How Is Malaria Transmitted?
Malaria is a disease carried by mosquitoes. Though considered nothing more than a troublesome pest in America, the mosquito is one of the deadliest animals on the planet, claiming more lives than shark attacks.
When an infected mosquito bites someone, the parasites it carries invade the bloodstream, and symptoms rapidly start to emerge. Victims experience chills, diarrhea, fever, muscle pain, and anemia. In regions like sub-Saharan Africa, malaria very quickly becomes fatal due to lack of access to clean water and medical care.
The best tool to combat malaria is an insecticide-treated bed net that prevents mosquitoes from biting in the first place. If people are bitten and infected, malaria can be treated through rapid diagnostic tests and treatment. However, in many cases, families have to walk miles in harsh conditions to reach medical care while sick or traveling with sick children. The medication Artemisinin combination therapy, is not always effective or available.
A Simple Solution — Prevention
Interestingly, malaria is caused by nocturnal mosquitos — you’re only at risk in the evening hours in endemic regions. The simplest solution to the alarming problem of malaria?
Insecticide-treated bed nets.
One organization has made it its mission to reduce the number of malaria cases around the world each year. Through their perseverance and passion for helping people fight this deadly disease, Nothing But Nets has distributed over 12 million nets.
The mosquito net solution is a simple one — create a cost-effective barrier between people and mosquitoes, and reduce the number of cases of malaria. As the largest grassroots movement in the world battling this issue, they’ve made significant progress and raised over $65 million in their fight to protect people from this deadly disease.
Nothing But Nets
Nothing But Nets initially started in 2006, and you’ll never guess where. In an issue of Sports Illustrated, columnist Rick Reilly challenged each of his readers to donate $10 to send insecticide-treated bed nets to countries at risk for malaria, to help protect families from the deadly disease-carrying mosquitoes.
The campaign raised over $1 million in its first month alone, and it never stopped.
Since then, the numbers have improved. Back then, a child used to die every 60 seconds from malaria, and now that number is at two minutes. Though there are still millions of people who need the protection of these life-saving nets, Nothing But Nets has made it possible for people to make a huge difference with a very small donation.
How You Can Help
This simple solution has taken on big momentum over the years, but it needs the help of people passionate about saving lives to keep that momentum going. It only takes $10 to donate a lifesaving bed net. Today, World Malaria Day, every gift will be quadrupled.
With a lot of small donations, this campaign has proven that sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones. It’s not much — a simple bed net with an insecticide. But for a family living in an at-risk country, it’s the difference between possibly walking for miles with their children across the desert for to reach medical care, or sleeping soundly knowing their children are safe.
Fundraisers have sprung up all over social media with entertaining and unique ways to grab attention for the issue — you can even donate your birthday!
Did you donate? Starting a fundraiser? Tell us about it on social media, and tag us and Nothing But Nets in the post! @AvocadoMattress and @NothingButNets