Last year a campaign started on the DePauw University campus that saved the lives of hundreds of children by providing nets to protect them from being bitten by malaria carrying mosquitoes.
Knitting for Nets raised over $2,000 last year--enough to purchase hundreds of nets from a charity called Nothing but Nets. This group purchases, distributes and educates people on the use of insecticide treated bed nets.
DePauw Junior Alison Case started the campaign by applying for a $500 grant from Americans for Informed Democracy. The young activist recruited help from students at DePauw and the DePauw Women's Center as well as members of the community.
"Sometimes, I would come to the Women's Center and find boxes with scarves in them. We didn't always know where they came from but it certainly helped us," said Case. She meets with a group every Monday and Wednesday evening to knit.
This year the group is hoping to raise over $2,500.
"The community has been the driving force behind this project and I am hoping to get the word out as much as possible this fall to increase participation, not just in Greencastle, but throughout Putnam County," she told the Banner Graphic.
Malaria is a disease caused by the blood parasite Plasmodium and is transmitted by mosquitoes. It infects more than 500 million people a year and kills more than a million. One person dies from the disease about every 30 seconds.
Malaria is especially devastating in Africa, where it is a leading killer of children. The country is home to the deadliest strain of the disease and many areas in Africa lack the infrastructure and resources to stop the disease.
Nearly half of all hospital admissions and outpatient visits in Africa are due to the disease. It costs approximately $12 billion in lost productivity in the country.
Amazingly, Malaria is both preventable and treatable. Giving families and individuals insecticide-treated bed nets to sleep under at night can prevent it.
There are also steps that can be taken to kill the mosquitoes where they breed and when they enter a home at night to feed.
At the same time, anti-malarial drugs and therapies are available to treat the disease before it becomes deadly.
In many places malaria has been brought under control and even eliminated in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Yet, Africa, with increasing drug resistance and struggling health systems, is seeing an increase in the disease.
In the poorest parts of the world where there are no window screens, insecticide-treated bed nets are the most cost-effective way to prevent transmission of the disease.
One bed net costs just $10 to buy and deliver to those in need. It will safely last a family for about four years thanks to a long-lasting insecticide woven into the net fabric.
Studies show that use of these nets can reduce transmission as much as 90 percent in areas with high coverage rates. The nets create a protective barrier against mosquitoes at night, when the vast majority of them feed.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Net for Net, match all contributions. To join Knitters for Nets contact Alison Case at alisoncase_2010@DePauw.edu or call 260-452-7763.
You can also make a donation online at www.nothingbutnets.net