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Nothing But Nets campaign gets $3 million challenge grant



Schoolchildren in Lekki, Nigeria, perform a skit promoting the effectiveness of mosquito nets in preventing malaria. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.









Jan. 4, 2007         

By United Methodist News Service*
The Nothing But Nets campaign is receiving a $3 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the purchase and distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria in Africa.

The challenge grant was announced Jan. 4, as representatives of Nothing But Nets prepared to kick off the campaign with an event at the National Basketball Association store in New York City.

The people of The United Methodist Church, the United Nations Foundation, NBA Cares, Sports Illustrated and other partners are working to raise donations for bed nets. The grant will match those contributions dollar for dollar up to $3 million.



Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton outlines the Nothing But Nets initiative at the 2006 meeting of the United Methodist Association of Communicators.
A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.

"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 United Methodist Commission on Communication.

A $10 bed net can protect a family of four for up to four years, reducing the incidence of nocturnal mosquito bites - the primary means of transmitting the disease. Malaria infects more than 500 million people each year, and more than a million die from the disease, yet fewer than 5 percent of African children sleep under a mosquito net, according to the campaign.

Joining in Nothing But Nets is 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, top staff executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. "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."

Making a difference
Since the campaign's beginnings last year, inspired by a Sports Illustrated column by Rick Reilly, Nothing But Nets has raised more than $2 million, and 150,000 nets have already been distributed in Nigeria. The campaign is working through one of its partners, the Measles Initiative, to deliver the nets.



Public health workers with the Nothing But Nets campaign demonstrate the proper way to hang a mosquito net during a home visit in the Apapa neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

"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."

Kathy Bushkin, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the U.N. Foundation, also expressed gratitude for the Gates grant. She noted that the campaign "demonstrates how easy it is for one person to make a difference."
Malaria accounts for up to half of all hospital admissions and outpatient visits in Africa, according to the campaign. In addition to the burden on the health system, malaria illness and death cost Africa about $12 billion a year in lost productivity.
Contributions can be made to the campaign through the Advance for Christ and His Church, the second-mile giving program of the denomination. Donations, designated for Advance No. 982015, can be made online at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/advance/donate.cfm?code=982015, by phone at (888) 252-6174, or by mail at Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. Checks also can be placed in the offering plate of any United Methodist congregation. One hundred percent of every Advance gift goes to the designated ministry.

For more information about Nothing But Nets, visit www.nothingbutnets.net or www.umc.org.

*This report was adapted from a press release by United Methodist Communications, with additional information from United Methodist News Service. UMNS is a unit of United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Diane Denton with United Methodist Communications is providing public information support for Nothing But Nets and can be reached at (615) 483-1765. UMNS news writer Linda Bloom is covering the launch and can be reached at (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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