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How are the URJ and NFTY saving lives through the Nothing but Nets campaign?

Michelle Cravez / Social Action / July 9, 2008

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July 9, 2008

Week 173

Tamuz 6 5768


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How are the URJ and NFTY saving lives through the Nothing but Nets campaign?
by Michelle Cravez

Malaria: The cause of nearly 1.5 million deaths a year, while infecting nearly 500 million people worldwide. Ninety percent of the deaths caused by malaria occur in Africa where the disease is a leading cause of death for children.

These big numbers are paired with big problems. And yet, just one small creature, the mosquito, is the source.

The URJ has joined in the initiative with the Nothing but Nets grassroots campaign to fight malaria. The campaign, inspired by Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, is now supported by NFTY as partners of the URJ. Reform Jews from across North America have been raising money to buy mosquito nets for families in Africa. The fact is that malaria is avoidable, and much easier to stop than once thought. Our goal is to provide 50,000 nets to prevent the spread of the disease and save lives. (To date we have raised $160,000, which equates to 16,000 nets -- or 32% of our goal.)

  • Why are we donating money for nets and not for actual vaccinations?
    Donating bed nets is so important because they are one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the disease.  In many ways, net donation is one of the easiest ways to truly take a stance on combating malaria. At this point in time, there actually is not a consistent, effective malaria vaccine.  The actual carrier of malaria (the parasite Plasmodium), goes through several changes and often becomes resistant to the drug. Bed nets thus provide a rapid and effective route toward prevention. The sooner we can help, the better.

  • What exactly is malaria and what are its effects?
    Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, which possess a certain blood parasite known as Plasmodium. The numbers are scary; more that 500 million people are infected with malaria each year and more than 1 million die. Even more shocking: nearly one person contracts the disease every 30 seconds. Infected humans experience flu-like symptoms that can result in coma and death. Africa tends to be the hotspot for malaria for several reasons. First, the region is home to a certain type of mosquito that is suitable for carrying Plasmodium. And, medical treatment and health facilities to treat malaria victims are severely lacking in these countries.

    The effects of malaria are devastating not only because of the mental and physical pain and suffering of the victims and their families but also because of the economic burden put on the countries. According to the Nothing but Nets site, "Malaria accounts for up to half of all hospital admissions and outpatient visits in Africa." In addition, nearly $12 billion is lost in production due to the disease.

    Only female mosquitoes can actually transmit the disease. The good news is that malaria can be both prevented and treated. Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are the most effective drugs available for treating malaria. In order to directly help the people who need them, less expensive ACTs, along with new strategies to distribute them need to be developed.
  • Send a net. Save a life.
    It really can be that simple.

    One hundred percent of every $10 donation to Nothing but Nets goes toward the purchase, distribution and education about the proper use of an insecticide bed net. These nets kill the mosquitoes once they land on the net itself, preventing them from biting in the middle of the night, and stopping them from finding their next victim. Scientists suggest that bed nets can help prevent malaria transmission by nearly 50%.

    We all want to be "the change that you wish to see in the world," but sometimes we just don?t know how to take the first step. This may just be that step for many of us; for others, it is another stride toward making a difference.

  • Learn more and spread the word
    If you are interested in learning more about the Nothing but Nets campaign, I strongly encourage you contact me at . We can continue to save lives by spreading the word, involving synagogues, individual TYGs and other youth programs.

Are the nets really going to save lives or is it the vaccinations that truly do the job?

Are NFTY and the URJ doing enough for this campaign? If not, what more can we do?


Michelle Cravez lives in Miami, FL but is getting ready to attend her first semester at the University of Florida in Gainesville this fall. She was lucky to serve as the NFTY STR Social Action Vice President this past term but is now ready to take a step to new heights as she serves as the new NFTY Social Action Vice President. She is a member of Temple Judea in Coral Gables, FL where she was an active TYG participant. During her free time she enjoys eating double stuffed Oreos and watching Law and Order SVU.

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