Every charitable organization is fired up this holiday time with year-end funding drives and pushes for donations. Many of us are well matched for them as we need to get our tax-deductions in before December 31. I hope you’ve been giving with the spirit of the season to support the causes for which you care.
If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s another quick and easy (and cheap) way to make a real difference. Nothing But Nets provides malaria-stopping mosquito nets for families in regions threatened by this killer disease in Sub-Saharan Africa. For a mere ten dollars, you can give a net large enough for a family of four to sleep under and actually save lives. The program is run via the United Nations, and nets delivered to communities (with training on how to effectively block mosquitoes with their use) by UN teams. It is such a simple barrier to a debilitating, often fatal illness. Medicine and treatment are so much more expensive than prevention–and you can do it in the name of folks on your gift list, so they take ownership in saving lives as well.
Ho Ho Ho.
It is pretty amazing that a disease that wreaks so much havoc across wide stretches of our planet is actually prevented with relative ease. A bug net. A freaking bug net is all it takes to save life after life after life. Mosquitoes may be just a summertime evening nuisance for you, but in many regions, quite notably across Africa, their stinging little proboscises (or is it probosci?) are loaded with contagion. Malaria, killer of so many, is quite efficiently passed by mosquito bites. So efficiently, that a child dies from the disease every 45 seconds. It is why your doctor prescribes the weird dream/nightmare inducing anti-malarial drugs when you travel to certain regions, but of course those drugs are cost-prohibitive for most people in the world. Your Deep Woods Off or Skin So Soft bug spray is also the repellent of the wealthy…but a simple physical barrier…a net for sleeping, makes numbers of malaria cases plummet in communities that have them. The World Health Organization has shown a 10% decrease from last year in malaria deaths in African regions that are starting to get nets.
Today is End Malaria Day. Organizations like Malaria No More and Nothing But Nets are on the ground, distributing sleeping nets in threatened communities around the world. You don’t need to pack your bags to go hand out nets and educate locals about how to properly use them to prevent mosquito bites, but you really do want to support this work. It is immediate and tangible. On the day a family gets a net or nets for their home/hut/shelter…THAT NIGHT, when they go to sleep under their new net…they are protected in a way they never were before. It is so simple, so “actionable” that there is really no reason not to be part of the solution. End Malaria: The Book is coming out today–in it, 62 of today’s sharpest minds write essays of inspiration and motivation. For every copy sold, twenty bucks goes directly to anti-malaria organizations. (The Kindle edition only costs $20 so every penny is donated. The paperback is $25). You give a few bucks…you get inspiration for your own day-to-day life…you save lives, directly and demonstrably. There’s really no lose here.
In just a couple of days I’ll start popping Malarone pills–a prophylactic anti-malaria medicine–for my trip to South Africa. Fortunately, I can afford the preventative medicine. George Clooney contracted malaria, for the second time, when he was in Sudan recently for the elections that we hope will lead to a free and seceded Southern Sudan. Malaria is a pretty brutal, flu-like disease, easily gotten over by those with access to medicine and who are strong and well-nourished before they get sick…like George. For so many others, it can be fatal. A mosquito-borne illness, the best passive resistance to malaria is a simple bug net for the bed, keeping mosquitoes at bay through the night. Nothing But Nets campaigns to send bed nets to malaria zones around the world. A simple $10 donation buys a net that can literally save the lives of several members of every family (in many targeted nations, several people crowd into/share a bed or mat). The United Nations facilitates distribution to the countries in Africa so nets get from airports to rural villages, in conjunction with their visits for their measles vaccination programs. Consider getting involved, and saving lives. You can do it from home, and make a significant difference in every single home to which you help bring a net.
Just because Christmas is at our doorstep, doesn’t mean you should stop giving.
Do you need charitable donations for the tax man, before December 31? ONE is an amazing organization, and even if you’ve given until it hurts, you can still go here to take action while keeping your wallet closed. Encourage President Obama to invest in the Global Fund for the end of year budgets and help the world’s most vulnerable countries continue their progress against HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria (all treatable and preventable diseases). The money that could be allocated for this is not instead of healthcare here at home, we’re not robbing Peter to pay Paul–and it will make a world of difference.
Let your voice be heard. Click over and take action.
All it takes is a bed net…
The US-funded anti malaria initiatives in Rwanda are proving effective, and we can make them even more successful. The Rwandan Health Ministry says malaria deaths have been reduced by more than 60%. World Malaria Day was yesterday (April 25, 2009) and a poignant time to evaluate the progress that has been made in fighting malaria as well as HIV disease and TB.
Dr. Corine Karema, Director of Rwanda’s National Malaria Control Program, states, “We have proven in Rwanda that we can dramatically increase the number of lives saved through funding and implementing programs in malarial countries. Now, we must recognize the opportunity facing not just Rwanda, but the world: for the first time in the history of this disease, we have an opportunity to eliminate the burden of malaria to a point where it is no longer considered a major public health problem. We must keep up the fight to ensure that this promise can become a reality.”
It only takes access to insecticide-treated bednets to protect people against mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite. Starting in 2006, the government of Rwanda aggressively increased its malaria intervention programs and distributed more 1.5 million malaria nets in one week. An additional 1.6 million have been distributed by non-government organizations (NGOs). Now, roughly 60 percent of children under five and pregnant women in Rwanda sleep under malaria nets–thus the dramatic improvement. See Ashley Judd, spokesperson for a leading malaria fighting organization, here…and learn how to help. http://www.malariafreefuture.org/rwanda.