In November 2006, the Nothing But Nets team and columnist Rick Reilly embarked upon an incredible journey to Nigeria to see for themselves the lifesaving impact of distributing insecticide-treated bed nets to those in need. Nigeria accounts for as much as 30% of Africa’s entire malaria burden. Throughout the country, malaria is responsible for nearly 29% of children’s deaths, and for 11% of deaths among pregnant women. Less than 6% of children under five in Nigeria sleep under insecticide treated nets, one of the most effective tools in combating malaria. With the help of the Measles Initiative and the World Health Organization (WHO), Nothing But Nets and its supporters are determined to increase the number of children sleeping under a lifesaving net.
Working jointly with the Measles Initiative and WHO, Nothing But Nets purchased 150,000 long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) for distribution throughout Lagos state in Nigeria in October 2006. The 150,000 nets were generated from the first $1.2 million in donations from Nothing But Nets supporters. Lagos is Nigeria’s most populous and urbanized state, and is also one of the country’s most at-risk areas for malaria. Through the Measles Initiative’s integrated children’s health campaign, children traveled with their mothers to vaccination posts throughout Lagos where they received an insecticide-treated bed net, as well as a measles vaccine and other medicines.
Upon arrival in Nigeria in November, Nothing But Nets traveled with Rick Reilly to Lagos and met with community health workers, doctors and volunteers at immunization centers to learn more about net distribution and better understand the impact of malaria. This was an important opportunity for Rick Reilly to see firsthand that the funds raised through his Nothing But Nets column in Sports Illustrated had been effectively utilized. This trip inspired Reilly’s follow up column “Nothing But Thanks,” in which he thanked his readers for their unprecedented support.
Just two months later, in January, 2007, Nothing But Nets joined NBA Cares, NBA legend Sam Perkins and WNBA star Ruth Riley, on a cross-continent trip that brought them from Nigeria to Angola to observe the need for insecticide-treated nets as well as their usage within different communities. Bringing spokespeople to these countries helped spread the word about the importance of LLINs, and continued to illustrate the need of widespread understanding about what can be done to fight malaria. Click here to read Sam Perkins’ account of his experiences in Nigeria and Angola on this trip.