Anti-Malaria Bed Nets: New Push Announced at UN
The United Nations has teamed up with religious, business and sports leaders in a new effort to send insecticide-treated bed nets to Africa to prevent millions of deaths from the disease, ahead of the first-ever World Malaria Day on Friday.“Nothing But Nets” is a grassroots campaign created in 2006 by the UN Foundation to raise awareness about malaria, which still kills about one million people every year, most of them children, and help fund the distribution of life-saving bed nets.
Ann Veneman, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), noted that of the one million people that die each year due to malaria, about 800,000 are children under the age of five who live in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The Nothing But Nets campaign is an important initiative that will help build on successes in addressing malaria and accelerate results for children,” she told a news conference at UN Headquarters. “Our results will be measured in lives saved and in lives improved.”
Ms. Veneman stressed that the disease takes a heavy toll in terms of death and human suffering and is a major source of poverty. “The cost of malaria control and treatment drains African economies and, according to some estimates, slows economic growth by as much as 1.3 per cent per year,” she noted.
“Malaria prevention is an important component of poverty reduction and economic development, and progress is being made,” she added.
Tim Wirth, President of the UN Foundation, explained that through the programme, citizens around the world can purchase bed nets for $10 each. They are then distributed through UN programmes in different countries.
“This is the most effective prevention programme in the area of malaria that we know about,” he noted.
The founding partners of the campaign, which was inspired by sports columnist Rick Reilly, include the National Basketball Association (NBA), the United Methodist Church and Sports Illustrated magazine.
NBA Commissioner David Stern highlighted the power of sports as a vehicle for communication on a global scale. “Athletes can be used to communicate many messages – some of them are for athletic shoes and apparel and some of them may be for cereal or automobiles. But how wonderful it is or them to have the opportunity to communicate that we should save lives,” he stated.