Do you know what Africa’s biggest killer is? Nope, it’s not HIV. Until last night, that’s what I thought. It’s malaria.
Yeah, malaria, that disease that no longer exists in the Western world. However, if you have the bad fortune to be born in sub-Saharan Africa, you are well-acquainted with what is one of the world’s oldest diseases. Because it has likely killed people you love. Like your four-year-old siter. Your baby. Or both of your parents.
This disease is transmitted to humans by mosquitos bites. When a mosquito infected with malaria bites a human, the parasite carried by the mosquito enters the bloodstream and causes fever, headaches and other nasty flu-like symptoms. If caught early, a 10 cent pill can stop malaria in its tracts. If left untreated, it can lead first coma and then death.
Despite the fact that malaria is very preventable and treatable, more than 400 million people are infected with it each year. About a quarter of those infections result in fatalities, with 90% of malaria deaths occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa. 75% of deaths resulting from malaria are children.
I could go on and on reciting the horrifying statistics I learned last night at a screening of When the Night Comes, Invisible Children founder Bobby Bailey’s documentary about malaria’s deadly impact on African, including his personal friends in Uganda. However, I think I’ve given you enough information to realize what an absurdity it is that a disease that is preventable and treatable is causing so much misery. Can we agree on that?
Good. Now let’s talk about some organizations that are actually doing something about this unnecessary tragedy. Like Ten Thousand Nets, the organization that organized the screening I saw last night. Ten Thousand Nets is a Denver-based campaign focused on putting malaria firmly where it belongs: in the history books. As their name implies, they are trying to raise enough funds to send 10,000 bed nets to Africa. Because one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of malaria is a $10 bed net that has been treated with insecticide. One bed net can protect up to four children sleeping under it.
Only two weeks ago into the campaign, Ten Thousand Nets has raised enough money for 2,000 nets, which means 2,000 to 8,000 people will be able to sleep better at night knowing that they are not going to wake up with a mosquito bite that ends up killing them. So they are doing a pretty good job I’d say. At the very least, they’ve knocked me out of my fog! They also have some pretty awesome partners, including Bono’s ONE Campaign, Malaria No More, and The Church in Denver. I definitely recommending following all of these organizations, it being Follow Friday and all.
If you would like to purchase a mosquito net for Ten Thousand Nets, text “DENVER” to 85944 and $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill. You don’t have to live in Denver to donate via text, either.
Other “do-follow” organizations fighting malaria