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At a glance: United States of America

NBA hosts announcement of Gates funding for ‘Nothing But Nets’ malaria campaign

© UNICEF/2007/Li
At the special event hosted by the National Basketball Association in New York City, participants including UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman (centre) hold the banner of the Nothing But Nets campaign against malaria in Africa.

NEW YORK, USA, 4 January 2007 – ‘Nothing But Nets’, a campaign to fight the scourge of malaria in Africa, today announced its first-ever challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – which has pledged to match, dollar for dollar, up to $3 million in individual contributions to the campaign.

The announcement was made at an event hosted by the National Basketball Association at the NBA Store in New York City. The NBA is a founding partner of Nothing But Nets, along with the United Nations Foundation, The People of the United Methodist Church, Sports Illustrated and others.

“I think that what we’ve seen today is the power of partnership, whether it’s an organization that works on the ground distributing the bed nets like UNICEF does, or organizations like those represented here raising awareness and raising funds," UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said at the event.

“It’s all about the partnerships that will really make a long-term difference for the children all around the world,” she added.

© UNICEF/2007/Li
From left: NBA TV's Andre Aldridge, Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, UN Foundation Executive Vice President Kathy Bushkin and UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman at the Nothing But Nets event.

Delivering bed nets along with vaccines

Nothing But Nets will use the funds from the Gates Foundation challenge grant to procure and distribute insecticide-treated bed nets through the Measles Initiative, a partnership of the American Red Cross, the UN Foundation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

The bed nets, which protect against malaria-carrying mosquitoes, are distributed in conjunction with national measles and polio immunization drives that can reach millions of children and families in the span of a few days or weeks.

UN Foundation Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kathy Bushkin thanked the Gates Foundation for its support of these efforts.

“Under the leadership of the United Nations, the Measles Initiative has emerged quickly as a major supplier of bed nets to some of the neediest countries in Africa,” she said. “We are delighted that so many individuals are now involved in this powerful initiative.”

UNICEF’s role in distribution

Ms. Veneman explained UNICEF’s key role in the integrated campaigns that provide bed nets along with vaccinations, vitamin A supplementation and other child health interventions.

“UNICEF, along with all of the Measles Initiative partners, helps to organize and implement bed net distributions throughout Africa,” she said. “Nothing But Nets contributes to the purchase of the nets, and our networks in the country will then deliver them.”

Working with partners who are committed to eliminating the disease, UNICEF has procured over 23 million nets for distribution this year – enough to save the lives of some 138,000 children.

© UNICEF/2007/Li
From left: NBA legend Sam Perkins, Lynda Commale and her daughter Katherine, 6, who raised $10,000 for Nothing But Nets with family and friends.

Commitments from NBA and VH1

While malaria has largely been eradicated in the industrialized world, between 350 and 500 million people are still infected each year, most in Africa. More than 1 million of those infected die from the disease annually, with most of those deaths among children under five.

Faced with these daunting facts, representatives from the NBA and the VH1 music network, another Nothing But Nets partner, took the opportunity today to announce their own new commitments to the fight against malaria.

Besides advocating support for malaria prevention at NBA and Women’s NBA games, the league said it had enlisted players such as NBA legend Sam Perkins to act as spokespersons for the Nothing But Nets campaign.

For its part, VH1 said it would help generate public awareness of the issue by creating and airing a public service announcement on malaria. In addition, the network has committed to producing and broadcasting a VH1 News segment on malaria and Nothing But Nets.




4 January 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on the ‘Nothing But Nets’ malaria campaign receiving its first-ever challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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