Despite the huge toll that malaria takes on the world, preventing the
disease is relatively easy. Since most transmissions occur through
mosquito bites in the middle of the night, widespread use of
long-lasting, insecticide-treated bednets can reduce transmission by as
much as 90 percent.
That's why the United Nations Foundation,
a public charity created to support UN goals, has a campaign devoted
entirely to raising money to purchase bed nets.
Creation of a unique partnership
campaign is called Nothing But Nets. The name not only highlights the
group's sole mission; it's also the way people describe a basketball
shot that goes right through the hoop, touching nothing but the net.
sports connection is no accident. The campaign was launched by American
sports writer Rick Reilly. In 2006, Reilly wrote a column in Sports
Illustrated asking readers to give money to the U.N. Foundation to buy
bednets. More than 17-thousand people responded, sending in more than
one million dollars.
Following the success of this initial
drive, the U.N. Foundation, the National Basketball Association, the
United Methodist Church and other groups partnered together to form
Nothing But Nets.
Executive Director Elizabeth Gore says, "The
Nothing But Nets campaign has been responsible, thus far, for raising
26 million dollars, which translates into 2.6 million nets, which is a
big part of this. The U.N. System is now up to distributing almost 20
million nets a year."
Big problems caused by little mosquitoes
bit of prevention is important, considering the devastating effects of
malaria around the world. There are about 300 million infections and
one million deaths from malaria each year. Malaria hits children the
hardest, to the extent that an infected child dies approximately every
The disease also has broader impacts.
is also hurting all of our other efforts from getting kids to school to
people that are on anti-retroviral drugs dying of malaria," Gore says.
"It's a root cause of poverty."
Nets for refugees
recently, Nothing But Nets has partnered with the U.N. High Commission
on Refugees (UNHCR) to distribute nets in refugee camps. Refugees and
internally displaced peoples are among those most vulnerable to
According to Thomas Albrecht of UNHCR, "Refugee
situations are often very complex, but here we can see that one can
make a concrete difference without having to go into much analysis."
Success in tough times
because of this concreteness, enthusiasm for the Nothing But Nets
campaign has remained strong, even in a troubled economy.
explains, "Just in the last four months, this campaign's been doing
better than ever, so even though we're in this economic downturn, we
raised more money in December than we ever have in the campaign."
grassroots organization of Nothing But Nets has also helped maintain
its effectiveness. Consider 14-year-old Elisabeth Clymer. She first got
involved with Nothing But Nets as part of a school project. She felt
so strongly about it that she quickly got her church's youth group on
board. Now her youth group organizes monthly collections at the
Clymer reports, "On World Malaria Day we… collected almost two thousand dollars just in spare change."
an average donation of just 60 dollars, Nothing But Nets will need the
help of hundreds of netraiser volunteers like Clymer in order to
achieve their lofty goals.
"What we're trying to do is cover
every sleeping space on the continent of Africa, which is around 300
million people or spaces, give or take," Gore says.
sound ambitious, but so is the United Nations' ultimate goal.As part of
the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations would like to
eradicate malaria by 2015.