SEATTLE — For a little over a decade, the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing but Nets campaign has made a significant impact in preventing the spread of malaria in sub-Saharan Africans, primarily in adolescents. Since Nothing but Nets has been established, they have successfully raised $56 million while providing nine million bed nets to families in need in the sub-Sahara African region.
The Nothing for Nets campaign has proven to be quite prosperous, partnering with other charity organizations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NBA Cares and Major League Soccer’s MLS W.O.R.K.S.
The origin of Nothing but Nets is rooted in a 2006 article written by Rick Reilly that was published by Sports Illustrated. Reilly preached to his readers the necessity of providing nets for sub-Sahara Africa, due to an estimated 3,000 deaths in children from malaria. However, Reilly continued his article with an optimistic, and sometimes persistent, tone to encourage readers to make a donation of $10 to provide a family of up to four members with nets coated with an insecticide, that would last four years.
Donations of $10, Reilly argues, would make a tremendous impact, for “transmission of the disease would be reduced by 60 percent with the use of mosquito nets and prompt treatment for the infected.”
Malaria is contracted through the bites of Anopheles mosquitos, which carry the life-threating disease due to a blood parasite, Plasmodium. Sub-Sahara Africa is the most prominent region in the world for malaria cases, with 78 percent of malaria deaths occurring in the region, and 300 million occupants of sub-Sahara Africa lack access to an insecticide-treated bed net. Although sub-Sahara Africa is the most contagious region, other areas of the world, including South-East Asia and Latin America are also at risk of contracting the malaria virus.
According to the Nothing but Nets website, a child dies every two minutes from the malaria virus. In 2015 alone, there were 212 million cases of malaria worldwide, a recorded 429,000 deaths and 70 percent of causalities were children under the age of five.
Malaria has proven to be a menacing disease that can result in death if untreated. However, Nothing but Nets offers a glimmer of hope, claiming that malaria is preventable and treatable with the support of long-lasting, insecticidal bed nets that create a physical barrier against malaria-carrying mosquitoes and kill off the mosquitos before they can transmit the disease. Nothing but Nets notes that there has been a dramatic increase in bed nets available in sub-Saharan Africa, from two percent in 2000 to 53 percent of the population receiving bed nets today.
Nothing but Nets has maintained a level of excellence in providing support for bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa. Among Nothing but Nets most successful endeavors is their P.L.E.D.G.E to Protect program, that accepts money donations of ten dollars, putting all of the proceeds towards providing bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa. The Nothing But Nets website cannot stress enough of the impact ten dollars can make, stating “A $10 donation sends a life-saving bed net, which is delivered by our U.N. partners and local governments to families who need it most.”
Along with the P.L.E.D.G.E to Protect program, Nothing but Nets also offers household spraying that can protect families up to six months, malaria testing and treatment and the malaria vaccine.
One of the most avid participants of the Nothing but Nets organization is Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors point guard who has become a household name for fans of the NBA. This past season marked Curry’s fifth year of his “Three for Three” challenge, where Curry provides three nets for every three-pointer he makes. Regarded to some as the greatest shooter ever, Curry terrorized opposing defenses by lighting it up from the three-point line.
During Curry’s campaign, he has donated 3,663 nets towards the Nothing but Nets organization while encouraging his teammates to take action as well, who raised another 1,783 nets to help protect families most at risk from malaria. Coming off his second MVP season in 2016, where he shattered the previous record of three-pointers made in a season with 402 threes, Curry continued his magic this season hitting 13 three-pointers in one game and leading his team to their second championship in three years.
Nothing but Nets continues to make strides in reducing the virus of malaria. As recently as June 20, 2017, Nothing but Nets orchestrated an agreement with Sumitomo Chemical Co., a long-standing partner in the fight to end malaria. Based on the guidelines of their agreement, Sumitomo Chemical will match the total donations of nets made by Nothing but Nets up to 350,000, totaling an overall 700,000 nets.
Nothing but Nets plan to further make innovations, in hopes to one-day end malaria altogether. With the help of the U.N. Foundation, Nothing but Nets has constructed a new P.LE.D.G.E to Protect platform that aims to protect two million refugees and displaced individuals from malaria by the end of 2017.
As it stands, Nothing but Nets has provided a substantial effort in protecting Sub-Saharan Africa from Malaria.
– Patrick Greeley