Putting Malaria on Notice With Bed Nets

April 25, 2018 By Megan Rabbitt

After fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Amisa thought her family would finally be safe when they reached a refugee camp in Tanzania. But it wasn’t long before she realized they faced a different type of danger in the camp: mosquitos.

Eleven-year-old Amisa was the first to contract malaria, and her younger sisters fell ill soon after. But the girls were lucky – their mother was able to bring them to a local hospital where they were tested and treated for the disease. Eventually, the girls’ fevers subsided and each made a full recovery.

Not everyone is as lucky. A child dies from malaria every two minutes. And in the Nyarugusa refugee camp where Amisa lives with her family – which is one of the largest refugee camps in the world – malaria is the leading cause of death.

As one of the oldest and deadliest diseases on earth, malaria has plagued mankind for centuries. But despite the seeming intractability of this ancient disease – malaria is not only treatable, it’s preventable. And one of the best ways to protect people from malaria is through the use of insecticide-treated bed nets.

Nearly 90 percent of people who have a bed net use it, and at just $10 a piece, insecticidal bed nets are one of the most impactful and cost-effective tools we have in the fight against malaria. After Amisa and her sisters recovered, her family was given bed nets to sleep under. In the year since, Amisa reports that no one in her family has had malaria.

Bed nets like those keeping Amisa and her family healthy were provided by the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign, which has raised over $65 million to provide more than 12 million bed nets since 2006.

Today, 53 percent of sub-Saharan Africa is protected by bed nets, compared to just 2 percent in 2000. As the use of bed nets has skyrocketed, malaria deaths have plummeted – with 6.8 million lives saved, mortality rates are down 62 percent since 2000.

But despite this remarkable progress, malaria’s rate of decline has stalled in recent years. Half of the world’s population remains at risk of contracting the disease, and 300 million people across Africa are not protected by bed nets.

Johnson & Johnson is one of the incredible private sector organizations committed to helping reverse this troubling trend. The Global Moms Relay, a digital campaign spearheaded by Johnson & Johnson raises funds for five UN initiatives that improve the health and well-being of women and children around the world – including Nothing But Nets.

The Global Moms Relay brings together celebrities and community leaders of all kinds to share their stories about motherhood between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day every year. Each time a story is shared on social media, Johnson & Johnson donates a dollar to one of the five UN initiatives. Last year, the campaign raised a total of $550,000, and in the four years since the relay kicked off, Johnson & Johnson has raised $1.6 million. With support from the Global Moms Relay, Nothing But Nets has been able to distribute more bed nets to help families like Amisa’s stay healthy and malaria-free.

For the first time in human history, a malaria-free generation is within our reach. And with the United States as the largest funder of global anti-malaria efforts, Americans can take pride in the part they have played to bring us closer than we have ever been to the day when no man, woman, or child dies from a mosquito bite.

Amisa’s story originally appeared here: https://bit.ly/2qS6KUN