This Simple Object Could Eliminate Malaria — And You Can Help

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One of the oldest diseases in the world is carried by one of the world's peskiest animals — the mosquito. And even though malaria has been eliminated in the U.S., half the world is still at risk. In fact, every two minutes a child dies from this deadly, yet preventable, disease.

Every November, the global health community commemorates Malaria Day in the Americas to celebrate the progress made toward ending malaria in the region. But even with significant moves towards elimination, the disease continues to affect millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The good news? There are ways you can help. As we start the season of giving, now is the perfect time to donate a life-saving bed net to protect families from the malaria-carrying mosquitoes that bite at night. And the better news? When you donate to Nothing But Nets, your donation will be doubled to protect twice the families.

Video: The Americas are Ready to Beat Malaria!

A Global Crisis

You may have heard that malaria is constrained to Sub-Saharan Africa. And it's true that the majority of cases occur there. But malaria still remains in the Americas, too, especially in rural, hard-to-reach areas where access to health care can be limited.

So in 2017, Nothing But Nets expanded their mission to eliminate the disease in Latin America and the Caribbean. Although cases have been on the decline since 2000, about 132 million people in the Americas are considered to be at high risk of malaria. In 2016, 216 million people around the globe contracted malaria, causing 455,000 deaths. Approximately 70 percent of those affected were children.

On this side of the globe, malaria is most rampant among pregnant women, displaced peoples, young men working in mines, and farm workers in the Amazon region. Venezuela, in particular, had been incredibly successful at reducing the spread of malaria, but political and economic turmoil in recent years has undone much of that progress — malaria rates have lately increased by 76 percent.

Although those statistics sound dire, we're close to winning the fight against malaria. Not too long ago, a child succumbed to the disease every 30 seconds instead of every two minutes. And while the situation in Venezuela is alarming, Nothing But Nets is also working in Ecuador, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, where rates are low enough to put elimination on the horizon.

It's more important than ever to support Nothing But Nets in their effort to supply more insecticidal bed nets to these countries and stop these mosquitoes in their tracks. Deploying resources like bed nets, rapid diagnostic tests, and other malaria prevention and treatment tools while malaria rates are low is key to preventing outbreaks and eliminating malaria for good.

This Solution's Full of Holes (in a Good Way)

This year marked a historic milestone: Paraguay was certified as malaria-free, the first country in the Americas to be certified since the 1960s, and other countries — like Ecuador — are close behind. Here's one reason why the Americas are close to malaria elimination: it was here that doctors were able to halt smallpox in 1971 and polio in 1994. What better place to continue that streak?

According to the World Health Organization, a bed net is bar-none the most effective method of preventing the disease. The risk of contracting malaria from a mosquito begins at dusk and only gets worse, so protective nets can slow the spread of the disease in a life-saving way. That's where the UN Foundation's Nothing But Nets campaign comes in. A donation of just $10 helps to purchase and deliver a life-saving bed net and educate the recipient on its proper use. And better yet, all donations will be matched in-kind, so sending $10 will send two bed nets instead of one.

When you donate a net to a family in need, that net lasts for 2–4 years, so you know you're providing a solution that could last for years to come. All the more reason to donate now.

Written by Our Friends at the UN Foundation November 8, 2018
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