Malaria Advocates Rally in Washington for World Malaria Day

Every two minutes, a child dies from malaria.

The United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign convened more than 125 advocates from 29 states to the nation’s capital to galvanize policymakers to support U.S. funding for life-saving global malaria programs.

Nothing But Nets advocates are on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Congress today, World Malaria DayThis is the third and final day of the campaign’s annual Leadership Summit to train and mobilize the next generation of grassroots leaders in the fight against malaria.

“We have the opportunity to end malaria in this generation,” said Margaret Reilly McDonnell, director of Nothing But Nets. “Our advocates are incredibly dedicated to this fight and want to help us save lives.”

In response to dramatic proposed funding cuts to foreign assistance programs and UN agencies engaged in life-saving work around the world, Nothing But Nets champions will meet with their members of Congress to help ensure the U.S. does not back away from its commitments to the fight against malaria and maintains a strong relationship with the United Nations. The Summit is hosted alongside JCI USA, a leading partner in grassroots advocacy, with more than 30 Jaycees in attendance from chapters across the country.

During the Summit, champions heard from television broadcaster and malaria survivor, Charlie Webster, and model, DJ, humanitarian, and president of Stand 4 Education, Mari Malek, along with several other UN and malaria leaders to learn the necessary skills to build awareness and advocate for crucial funding for the United Nations, the President’s Malaria Initiative, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“Last August, malaria almost claimed my life,” said television broadcaster and athlete, Charlie Webster. “If by telling my story, I can save just one life, everything I went through was worth it. This disease is preventable and treatable – we can end malaria in our lifetime.”

In recognition of World Malaria Day and its P.L.E.D.G.E. to Protect vulnerable families, Nothing But Nets is rallying partners and grassroots supporters to deliver 25,000 urgently-needed bed nets to refugees and displaced families in South Sudan. Several partners have made commitments this month – The Benito and Frances C. Gaguine Foundation will match funds donated towards this goal. Leading bed net manufacturer, Sumitomo Chemical Co., renewed its annual commitment to match up to 350,000 nets to inspire campaign donors to join the fight to defeat malaria this year.

Virtual reality was a new theme throughout the Leadership Summit. Last month, Nothing But Nets launched its first-ever virtual reality film, “Under the Net,” a short documentary featuring Amisa, an 11-year-old girl living in the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Tanzania. The award-winning film was shared with Summit participants and discussed by the filmmakers and VR experts from Secret Location, Discovery Communications, and The Newseum, which featured “Under the Net” as a Top Ten VR Film in its December showcase. Champions will take “Under the Net” to Capitol Hill today to share with their members of Congress and staff.

“Virtual reality has the power to connect audiences in an emotional, authentic way with what it’s like to live as a refugee impacted by malaria,” said Rachel Henderson, communications manager for Nothing But Nets. “We hope that Amisa’s story can inspire people to take action to help us save even more lives.”

Every two minutes, a child dies from malaria. Nothing But Nets is the world’s largest grassroots campaign fighting this disease caused by a single mosquito bite. The campaign has raised $60 million and delivered over ten million nets and other malaria interventions and treatment through its UN partners to protect refugees and vulnerable families.

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