Bill Gates Launches ‘Mosquito Wars’ Campaign

Bill & Melinda Gates

Bill and Melinda Gates

The world’s richest man has raised the stakes in his decade-long fight to eradicate malaria.

Ten years ago, Bill and Melinda Gates called for the complete eradication of malaria, a disease that as recently as 2000, killed 870,000 people in a single year. The billionaire philanthropists announced that their goal was to kill the disease within Bill’s lifetime (Gates is now a sprightly 61). The goal was met with scepticism by many, says Gates in a note on his blog, GatesNotes.

He is somewhat disappointed that more progress has not been made. “In 2007, I thought we’d have a long-lasting malaria vaccine by now. The World Health Organization plans to begin pilot demonstration projects of a first-generation malaria vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa next year, although without a booster dose it only protects a child for less than six months. I’m hopeful that researchers will develop a next-generation vaccine that offers much longer protection within the next 10 years, but a decade ago I was overly optimistic about where we’d be today.”

Nevertheless, the world has made massive progress in fighting the disease, with numbers of deaths reduced by 50 percent since 2000, to 429,000 last year. “I don’t throw the word ‘miracle’ around lightly,” says Gates, “but that number is nothing short of miraculous.”

The billionaire gives credit to an unprecedented scale-up in global commitment and cooperation — malaria funding rose by 1,000 percent from 2000 to 2015. This money fuelled a number of scientific breakthroughs, which could then be delivered on a large scale in Africa and Southeast Asia, where the disease is most prevalent.

But there’s more work to be done. To kick start the road to achieving his goal he has launched a campaign focused helping families in Mozambique: The Gates Notes Bed Giveaway.

“I’ve partnered with World Vision to give away 100,000 bed nets,” he says. “These nets protect families from mosquitoes that carry deadly diseases, including malaria. Each one is treated with a special insecticide solution that kills mosquitoes but is safe for humans to touch. Insecticide-treated bed nets have played an enormous role in the fight to end malaria, and I’m excited about the difference they’ll make for the families who receive them.”

All you have to do is click this link and answer one question. “Then, I’ll give a bed net on your behalf to a family in Inhambane province — a region in Mozambique where malaria is common but many people still sleep without nets. Saving lives doesn’t get any easier than that.”

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