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Nothing But Nets Campaign Gets $3 Million Boost

United Methodist Communications
Office of Public Information
810 12th Ave. S.
Nashville, TN 37203

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 4, 2007

Contact: Diane Denton
(615) 483-1765 (cell)


Nothing But Nets Campaign Gets $3 Million Boost

NEW YORK: The Nothing But Nets campaign will receive a $3 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the purchase and distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets to prevent malaria among children and families in Africa.

The people of The United Methodist Church and other Nothing But Nets partner organizations--the United Nations Foundation, NBA Cares, Sports Illustrated and others-are working together to raise donations for bed nets that save lives. The grant will match those contributions dollar to dollar up to $3 million.

The Nothing But Nets campaign was inspired by Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly who wrote a column by the same name appealing to his readers to donate money for bed nets. Joining in the campaign is just the latest step by The United Methodist Church to prevent and control malaria.

"For decades, the denomination has been working in African communities to combat diseases of poverty through education, prevention and treatment," said the Rev. R. Randy Day, the chief mission executive of The United Methodist Church. "Now by partnering with other organizations, we are able to reach more people and have a greater impact. Mosquito bed nets are a simple and cost-effective way to prevent malaria."

Malaria infects more than 500 million people each year, and more than a million die from the disease. Insecticide-treated mosquito nets can reduce the incidence of malaria by half in areas of high transmission, yet fewer than 5 percent of African children sleep under a mosquito net.

"Coming so soon after the Christmas season, this is great news because bed nets represent the gift of life," said Bishop Thomas Bickerton, president of the General Commission on Communication. "Among the poorest in Africa, the struggle to preserve life occurs every day. In a recent visit to Mozambique, I was deeply moved by the hospitality of the people I met and their real joy for living. The Gates Foundation challenge grant, and the response of generous people, will make a real difference in this effort to save lives."

So far, Nothing But Nets has raised more than $2 million, and 150,000 nets have already been distributed in Nigeria. Those were the first of many that will be shipped through the campaign, which is working through one of its partners, the Measles Initiative, to deliver nets to even hard-to-reach areas within Africa.

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Malaria Facts from NothingButNets.net:

Malaria has been brought under control and even eliminated in many parts of Asia, Europe and the Americas. Yet in Africa, with increasing drug resistance and struggling health systems, malaria infections have increased during the last three decades.

Bed nets are effective tools in the battle against malaria. They create a protective barrier against mosquitoes at night, when most transmissions occur. A family of four can sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net, safe from malaria, for up to four years. The benefits of bed nets extend beyond the family. When enough nets are used, the insecticide used to deter mosquitoes makes entire communities safer-including those individuals who do not have nets.

Malaria accounts for up to half of all hospital admissions and outpatient visits in Africa. In addition to the burden on the health system, malaria illness and death cost Africa approximately $12 billion a year in lost productivity. The effects permeate almost every sector. Malaria increases school absenteeism, decreases tourism, inhibits foreign investment and even affects the type of crops that are grown.