A United Nations-backed campaign to fight malaria in Africa has received its first-ever challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a pledge// to match dollar for dollar up to $3 million in individual contributions to the programme to fight a disease that kills more than 1 million people every year, mostly children under five.
The ‘Nothing But Nets’ campaign, a partnership between the UN Foundation, the United States National Basketball Association, the People of the United Methodist Church, Sports Illustrated magazine and others, will use the funds to procure and distribute insecticide-treated bed nets through the Measles Initiative.
The Initiative, a partnership of the UN Foundation, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the American Red Cross and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has emerged 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,” UN Foundation Executive Vice President Kathy Bushkin said.
UNICEF plays a key role in the integrated campaigns that provide bed nets along with vaccinations, vitamin A supplementation and other child health interventions. “It’s all about the partnerships that will really make a long-term difference for the children all around the world,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said.
Working with partners who are committed to eliminating the disease, UNICEF has procured over 23 million nets for distribution this year, enough to save the lives of some 138,000 children.
While malaria has largely been eradicated in the industrialized world, between 350 and 500 million people are still infected each year, mostly in Africa.
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