Mosquito_net_in_Subsaharan_AfricaAccording to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 3 billion people across the globe are at risk for contracting malaria. One-third of this group is considered to be at high risk and 90 percent of malaria deaths occur in Africa.

NetsforLife Steps In

NetsforLife is working to reduce the number of malaria deaths in Africa. Since its inception in 2005, this partnership of corporations, foundations, NGOs and faith-based organizations has distributed nearly 22 million mosquito nets in 17 malaria-endemic countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

However, the organization’s efforts to eradicate malaria extend beyond net distribution. According to its website, NetsforLife also ensures that communities receive adequate training on the value of these nets as well as “the right way to use and maintain them.”

Too often, mosquito nets have been used for fishing or as bridal veils instead of the vital purpose for which they were created.

In addition to educating communities on the proper use of nets, the organization also specifically targets remote areas that typically do not receive care from national healthcare systems.

NetsforLife calls on the help of local leaders and community volunteers or “malaria agents” to provide the necessary education and support to civilians.

Malaria Prevention is Key

According to the WHO, prevention is an important aspect of combatting malaria. The malaria parasite, Plasmodium, multiplies quickly, allowing it to build up resistance to malaria medicines. Mosquito nets and more specifically, insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), play a crucial role in prevention efforts.

While significant headway has already been made with the number of malaria cases declining to 214 million in 2015 from 262 million in 2000, there is still much work left to be done to eradicate the disease. To that end, the WHO launched “The Global Technical Strategy for Malaria, 2016 – 2030” which aims to reduce malaria incidence and mortality by 90 percent.

With over 100,000 volunteers, NetsforLife continues to do its part to help achieve these goals. So far, the organization has reached 41.7 million individuals and counting.

Jocelyn Lim

Sources: NY Times, NetsforLife, World Health Organization (WHO) 1, World Health Organization (WHO) 2, World Health Organization (WHO) 3
Photo: Google Images

d.light solar
The company d.light manufactures and distributes solar lights and other products to people around the world. Currently, 300 people work to complete the goals of d.light: give reliable energy to 100 million people by 2020. Aside from providing power, d.light notes that reliable power also contributes to better performance in school and better overall safety and health.

Nearly one and a half billion people around the world live without access to electricity. For a fifth of the population, the light switch that most people use every night does not exist. Most people without access to power live in regions with the highest rate of poverty: Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Many without access to power use kerosene lamps. But these are polluting and harmful to the people who use them. Burning one for four hours a day for one year results in 100 kg of carbon dioxide emissions, which contributes to climate change.

For individuals, using kerosene lamps can cause severe respiratory problems. If these health problems do not cause death, they severely limit access to jobs, which limits income and continues the cycle of poverty. As a demonstration of the importance of consistent electricity, it has been shown that household businesses with better lighting have a 30 percent increase in income, simply because it allows people to work at night.

The kerosene lamps are also extremely cost inefficient. LED lights produce almost 100 times more wattage than kerosene lamps. But without other options available, a significant portion of individual or family income goes toward kerosene lamps. Merely limiting access to modern technology results in dangerous, and possibly fatal consequences to people in poverty.

In 2004, Sam Goldman witnessed the effect of kerosene lamps when one burned his neighbor in Benin. This personal contact with the effects of limited access to electricity inspired Goldman to educate himself on sustainable and affordable innovation. During this time, he met Ned Tozun. Together, they created d.light, “an international social enterprise serving households without access to reliable electricity.”

d.light provides products such as study lamps, family lanterns and light systems with a phone charging capability. The products are powered through solar energy and can provide light for up to 15 hours. Indicating that the company knows its consumers, the products are versatile and can withstand the effects of weather or other uncontrollable factors.

As of July 31, d.light has empowered over 37 million lives, given solar lighting to almost 10 million children and saved over $1 billion in energy expenses. For each consumer, buying a d.light product can save approximately $150 over 5 years. Moreover, d.light positively impacted the environment by reducing carbon emissions by nearly 3 million tons.

Witnessing the dangerous affects of limited access to energy, two individuals created innovative yet accessible methods to address a problem associated with poverty. The innovation of d.light helps to alleviate both a cause and a consequence of an enormous issue. The benefits of d.light Solar evidences the significant potential impact of ensuring that people in poverty have access to innovative products.

– Tara Wilson

Sources: CNN, Acumen, d.light Solar
Photo: Discovery