Working Together to Fight Malaria in Africa

04 Jan 2007
PR Newswire
NEW YORK and WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nothing But Nets, a campaign to fight malaria in Africa by delivering insecticide-treated nets (bed nets), announced today that it has received its first-ever malaria challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant was announced at an event hosted by the National Basketball Association, one of the campaign's founding partners.

"Nothing But Nets provides an opportunity for communities everywhere to get involved in malaria prevention," said Regina Rabinovich, Director of Infectious Diseases at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We hope that this challenge grant will encourage others to take the simple step of sending a net and saving a life. Working together, we have the power to prevent this terrible disease from spreading."

The challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match, dollar for dollar, up to $3 million in individual contributions to Nothing But Nets. It will be utilized by the campaign to procure and distribute bed nets through the United Nations-led Measles Initiative. "We're grateful to the Gates Foundation for their support of this campaign.

Nothing But Nets demonstrates how easy it is for one person to make a difference," said Kathy Bushkin, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, United Nations Foundation. "Under the leadership of the United Nations, the Measles Initiative has emerged quickly as a major supplier of bed nets to some of the neediest countries in Africa. We are delighted that so many individuals are now involved in this powerful initiative."

New Commitments from the NBA and VH1

Representatives from the NBA and VH1 also announced their 2007 commitments to the campaign. The event also featured Lynda Commale and her six-year-old daughter, Katherine, who were honored for raising more than $10,000 for Nothing But Nets from their family, friends, and community at the Hopewell United Methodist Church outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"The NBA is proud to be a part of this campaign -- our teams and players understand the responsibility we have to help improve the quality of life in our local communities and those around the world. Nothing But Nets is an easy but impactful way for all of us to save lives," said Kathy Behrens, NBA Senior Vice President for Community and Player Programs.

The NBA hosted the Nothing But Nets partnership announcements at their store on Fifth Avenue and in advance of the January 5 New Jersey Nets vs. Chicago Bulls game, the first of more than 20 in-arena awareness nights that will take place in 2007 at NBA and WNBA games. Behrens also announced that African Luol Deng (Sudan) of the Chicago Bulls and DeSagana Diop (Senegal) of the Dallas Mavericks, as well as Kyle Korver of the Philadelphia 76ers, Ruth Riley of the WNBA's Detroit Shock, and NBA Legend Sam Perkins, have agreed to act as spokespeople for the campaign.

"When people learn more about malaria and hear about Nothing But Nets, they are inspired to act," said Tom Calderone, Executive Vice President, General Manager of VH1. "Together with all the partners, we're going to help broaden the reach of this campaign and highlight the work that is being done on the ground to help save the lives of children and families in Africa."

In 2007, VH1 will generate awareness by creating and airing a public service announcement about the Nothing But Nets initiative that will air on VH1, VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul, and The network will also produce and air a VH1 News segment on malaria and Nothing But Nets.

Progress to Date

Nothing But Nets was created by the UN Foundation in May 2006. Inspired by a column written by Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly, the campaign's founding partners are the National Basketball Association, The People of the United Methodist Church, and Sports Illustrated. Other partners include AOL Black Voices, the Rotarians' Action Group on Malaria, and VH1.

Bed net distributions are organized and implemented by the Measles Initiative, a partnership of the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF. Since May 2006, the Nothing But Nets campaign has raised more than $2 million, with average donations of $62.

In November 2006, representatives of the campaign traveled to Nigeria to visit with families who had received the first shipment of more than 150,000 long-lasting, insecticide-treated nets. The nets sent to Nigeria were the first of many that will be shipped to Africa through Nothing But Nets.

While malaria has largely been eradicated in the United States, between 350 and 500 million people are still infected each year, mostly in Africa. More than one million of those infected die from the disease. Seventy-five percent of those deaths are children under the age of five. Every day, 25 million pregnant women risk severe illness and harm to their unborn children from a malaria infection.

One of the most cost-effective and simple approaches to combat malaria is through the use of insecticide-treated bed nets, which can prevent malaria transmission by 50 percent. It costs $10 to buy and distribute a bed net and to educate the recipient on its use. According to the World Health Organization's World Malaria Report 2005, only three percent of children under five in Africa sleep under a long-lasting, insecticide-treated net.

About Nothing But Nets

Nothing But Nets is a global campaign to save lives by preventing malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. Inspired by Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, thousands of people have joined the campaign that was created by the UN Foundation. Founding campaign partners include the National Basketball Association's NBA Cares, The People of the United Methodist Church, and Sports Illustrated. Other partners include AOL Black Voices, the Rotarians' Action Group on Malaria, and VH1. It only costs $10 to provide an insecticide-treated bed net that can prevent this deadly disease. Visit to send a net and save a life.