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Buy A Net, Save A Life

For $10, you can buy a net and save a life. It’s so easy a child can do it and many are, according to the New York Times. The $10 mosquito net—a prime tool in the fight against malaria—has become the latest way for teenagers to show they give a damn.

The concept is beautiful in its simplicity. An insecticide-impregnated mosquito net costs $10, lasts three to five years, and saves the life of the family who uses it. I first heard of the potential from Simon Wilde, a friend in Zambia, who told me about it while I was gathering material for Heart of Diamonds. Simon pointed out that all the millions being spent on research to find a cure for malaria was wonderful, but a simple solution—the mosquito net—was already at hand if someone could find a way to get it to the people who needed it.

That’s what the kids are doing. While $10 may represent an African family’s income for a week, it’s chump change to a teen. As Bishop Thomas Bickerton told a crowd of 6,000 Methodist youths at a conference in North Carolina, “This represents your lunch today at McDonald’s or your pizza tonight from Domino’s. Or you could save a human life.”

He told the Times the kids showered the stage with Alexander Hamiltons–$16,000 worth in thirty seconds. Coolness indeed.

Some big names have jumped into the fray. “Nothing But Nets” is sponsored by the NBA and Major League Soccer. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lutheran Church, the United Methodist Church, the Union for Reform Judaism, and even American Idol are making major contributions and George Bush started the President’s Malaria Initiative. The Times says some $2.5 billion is needed.

The movement has gone viral through the efforts of hordes of children and teens who have adopted the cause, which is the gist of the Times’ story. They’re holding bake sales, basketball tournaments, fashion shows, and presentations at their schools to raise money to buy nets.

A child dies of malaria every thirty seconds. A ten dollar donation can save one of them. Even if you’re not a teenager, you can help at Nothing But Nets.

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This is wonderful

I've been in "malaria country" numerous times on the Thailand/Burma border.  With the HIV/AIDS publicity, people have forgotten that Malaria is STILL the largest killer of human beings by far.  We've been told that malaria is more of an "inconvenience" with modern medicine.  Though I do know many people who "live" with malaria, they are otherwise healthy.  For people with bad nutrition and other health issues, however, malaria is a killer....and a rather rapid one, besides.

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Right you are

Thanks for the comment, Eric. Malaria is certainly more than just a nuisance to children under five, especially those with other problems like borderline malnutrition (if not the real thing). According to the World Health Organization, less than 1% of the children under five years of age in the Democratic Republic of Congo sleep under protective nets. This results in most of them suffering six to ten malaria-related fever incidents per year. The disease also accounts for 45% of childhood mortality, which overall runs to 20%. In short, malaria kills nearly one in ten children in the Congo every year.