"It's 9 p.m. Are you under your mosquito net?" For residents of Chad and Tanzania, that message will be heard for the first time on April 25, World Malaria Day.
The innovative program, NightWatch, will be launched by the nonprofit organization Malaria No More and the arts group Lalela Project. The program will beam the antimalarial message to mosquito-inhabited areas through radio, TV, and text messages.
Mosquitoes that carry the deadly disease tend to bite between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., and a reminder to get under your mosquito net at bedtime can be a life-saving message, especially for the children under the age of 5.
The program, which began as a test project last year in Cameroon and Senegal, is delivered by recognizable voices in the countries, including politicians, musicians, athletes, and religious leaders.
The launch of the program in the two additional countries coincided with the debut of the new antimalarial anthem "Stop Palu" in Chad (palu means malaria). Exclusively introduced on Yahoo!, the video (below) will be shown everywhere on TV in Chad. The song, written by candlelight on a Mac by Chad’s top celebrities, promotes prevention and treatment of malaria.
The impact of malaria is clear: Carried through disease-borne mosquitoes, the disease kills one child every second (more than 1,500 children in Africa every day). The solution is straightforward: Says Dr. David Bowen, CEO of Malaria No More, "Malaria is transmitted by a mosquito bite. Stop the mosquito from biting, and you stop the disease."
How do we know this? The United States managed to eradicate malaria back in 1951. Four countries—United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), and Armenia (2011)—have all eliminated the disease since 2007.
Using a bed net treated with insecticide is an easy, effective way to avoid bug bites. A treated net that fits up to three children and lasts for years runs about $10.
Here's more good news: The disease, says Bowen, is "beatable." But it takes a village to really beat it: Commitment from political leaders of often impoverished nations, plus health-clinic access, bed-net distribution, and treatments for those infected are all required. Money helps, too. Says Bowen, "Political leaders need to be committed; the message has to get out."
The United States spends 10 cents out of every $400 of its budget on eradicating the disease –- and that money goes far. Says Bowen, “We are helping save the lives of one child every minute. And we're making friends across the world." He added, "I think this is a real moment of opportunity."