A brighter future is only a net away

by RESULTS Grassroots Engagement Associate Anna Barletta

There are many things that I love about summer. Yet, as quickly as I embrace it, I’m also reminded of those pesky mosquitoes that appear at night to torment me. I seldom emerge from an encounter in good shape. That’s why the other night, when woken by the mosquitoes piercing buzz ringing in my ear, I found myself frantically covering every part of my body, from my head to my toe, under my bed sheets.

And that’s the point. I have bed sheets that I can lay under every night to protect myself from these annoying creatures, which invade my bedroom when I’m at my most vulnerable and plant their bites on the most sensitive parts of my body. The bites itch for weeks and then leave me with a most unattractive scab marks on my skin, which take months to heal. But thankfully, this is all they leave me with – a feeling of discomfort.

The bites are annoying, but not life-threatening like the bites from the mosquitoes found in more than 100 countries across the globe. In fact, about half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria; a life-threatening disease transmitted to humans by a particular type of mosquito. Malaria infects 200 million people and kills 500,000 people every year.

I didn’t know this until recently, but prevention is the most effective approach to fighting malaria. The method is not too dissimilar to how I use my bed sheets to protect myself. Simple insecticide treated bed nets are one of the most effective preventative approaches to fighting malaria. Also mosquito repellents that can be directly applied to skin as well as sprayed in the air just like the ones that are advertised on our televisions across the summer months.

So the message is clear: to end this epidemic, the simple preventative measures we take for granted must be made available to everyone who lives in malaria-affected areas.

But achieving this isn’t easy. Right now, in a village in Vietnams’ Tin Ningh Province that sits alongside rubber plantations, which are breeding grounds for Malaria, there is a local family that is vulnerable to these mosquitoes with the deadly bite. Up until recently, this family didn’t even have a mosquito net to protect its two young children because it lacked the financial means to buy one. However, a recent mosquito bed net distribution program has meant that the children are now protected, except for some evenings when their dad has to go to work at the rubber plantation and takes the only bed net the family owns with him.

This is clear evidence to me that we need more nets and for the small investment of just $4 per net many more children can see a full and fulfilling life.

And that is exactly what the The Global Fund to Fight AIDS TB and Malaria (Global Fund) aims to do. The Global Fund is a central and independent global financing mechanism set up to help countries around the world save lives by reducing the effects of epidemics such as HIV /AIDS, tuberculous and malaria. Since 2002, the Global Fund has played a significant role funding treatment to 8.1 million people with HIV/AIDS, 13.2 million people with tuberculosis and has distributed 548 million insecticide treated bed nets to prevent malaria. To date, the Global Fund has saved 17 million people’s lives. Australian aid helped make this happen.

So, I stand with RESULTS pledging to play my part to end the world’s worst epidemics by 2030. I will use my voice to write to and meet with parliamentarians urging our government to stand up for the great work done through our Australian aid program. Let our voices be heard that we support Australian aid, and that we support more of it.

Too often, we sit back and look at the suffering in the world and think that the problem is either too big or that we are too small to make a difference. But not this time. Making a difference is as simple as providing a net. And we can all get behind that.

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