Categorized | NFTY North America, NFTY-SW

Malaria, Nothing But Nets, and the URJ

By  Jackson Dooling, NFTY-Southwest Social Action Vice President

As Jews, we have an obligation to help those in need. Currently, there are billions of people in need of a great deal of help. Though this help can come in many ways, NFTY has chosen to focus on malaria for the month of October.

Every year, malaria kills over 600,000 people, 86% of the deaths are children. This means that a child dies from malaria every 60 seconds. It exists in 109 countries around the world, which means that 3.3 billion people, roughly half the world’s population, is at risk. But what is malaria and how is it transmitted?

Mosquitoes infected with the Plasmodium parasite transmit the disease from person to person through their bites. The parasites enter the bloodstream, which carries them directly to the liver, where they reproduce. After anywhere from a week to a year, the parasites will have reproduced enough to cause symptoms. Those infected will develop a dangerously high fever and a headache, among other symptoms. In many cases, this leads to coma or death.

The rainfall and warm temperatures of tropical and subtropical regions provide the perfect environment for mosquito larvae to develop, so malaria is most prevalent in these regions. What is most alarming is that the regions with the most cases of malaria are also some of the world’s poorest regions.  Many of the people in these regions are too poor to protect themselves from Malaria, so they are more likely to contract it. Once they contract it, they can no longer work to produce crops, which hurts them economically. The vicious cycle that is created is almost completely unavoidable.

So what can we do? Since 2006, Nothing But Nets, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, has been working to end malaria by spreading awareness and sending mosquito nets to Africa, where the disease is most prevalent. According to their website, “The success of Nothing But Nets is a testament to the power of passionate people coming together to make the world a better, healthier place…Together, we can cover Africa with life-saving bed nets.” Through a great deal of work, more than 45 million dollars and 7 million nets have been donated since 2006.

In 2007, the URJ partnered with Nothing But Nets to help eradicate malaria and has raised nearly $1 million to send nets to Africa. This year, our movement will be focusing on helping a refugee camp in the northwest corner of Tanzania. The country’s sole refugee camp, Camp Nyarugusu, is “home” to nearly 68,000 refugees. Though they fled to Tanzania to escape violence, they face an equally frightening foe in their new country: malaria. In the camp of 68,000, there were 62,000 cases of malaria last year alone. Nothing But Nets has determined that the camp needs around 38,000 nets to keep the refugees safe. Our goal is to donate 18,000 nets this year, which will protect nearly half of the camp’s residents.

Throughout the month of October, Olivia Kessler, the MAR SAVP, and I will be striving to spread as much awareness as we possibly can. Be on the lookout for our tweets and blog posts to spread the buzz and to learn how you can help!

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