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By Maddie Sjolund, Digital Marketing & CRM Coordinator , Malaria Partners International

According to the latest World Malaria Report, there were an estimated 249 million malaria cases in 85 malaria-endemic countries. In the fight to end malaria, mosquito nets are one of the simplest and most effective methods, preventing millions of malaria cases each year. In 2022, 260 million insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) were delivered to sub-Saharan Africa.[1]

Sleeping under a mosquito net is not a choice for those in malaria-endemic areas, it’s a necessity for preventing malaria. ITNs are a barrier that keeps mosquitoes away, treated with an insecticide that repels and kills the mosquitoes that encounter it. While sleeping under an ITN each night may seem distant from the daily lives of many, this preventative tool is a daily reality for those living in these regions.  

The ‘Under The Net Challenge’, initiated by Elizabeth Barnhart of the Rotary Club of Duvall, sheds light on the hurdles millions of people face sleeping under a mosquito net each night.

Elizabeth received a government-issued mosquito net from the Hope Kansanga Rotaract Club during her visit to Uganda.

The Rotaractors challenged her and, by extension, fellow Rotarians, to sleep under a mosquito net, experiencing the discomfort associated with this essential preventative measure.

Elizabeth Barnhart with members of the Hope Kansanga Rotaract in Uganda
Elizabeth Barnhart with members of the Hope Kansanga Rotaract in Uganda

After traveling 8,000+ miles with the DuraNet Plus mosquito net, Elizabeth introduced the Rotaractor’s challenge to her Rotary Club in Duvall, WA.

She presented them with a tangible example of malaria prevention and spoke of the burdens that come with sleeping ‘under the net’ each night.

Danielle Rank, fellow member of the Rotary Club of Duvall, volunteered for the Under the Net Challenge. Her task was to sleep under the DuraNet Plus mosquito net for a week.

In doing so, she learned more about malaria prevention first-hand, experiencing the discomfort associated with this tool, while raising funds for Malaria Partners International. During these seven days, Danielle became well-acquainted with the practical difficulties of sleeping under a mosquito net, notably the size and material. She describes her first day of the challenge, “After allowing it to air out for 24 hours as instructed on the packaging due to the insecticide, we then laid it over the top of our canopy bed and held it in place with some clamps.

The canopy bed gave us a sturdy structure to place the net over. In a real-life scenario, this would likely not be the case. The net itself is scratchy and uncomfortable to the touch, you would not be able to sleep comfortably if it were brushing up against your skin.”

The obstacles she faced with the net mirror the insights of the Hope Kansanga Rotaractors, “I didn’t expect the material to be so uncomfortable to the touch. Without the canopy support, the net would have laid directly over us and likely, would have been much more uncomfortable to sleep under.”

Danielle Rank's mosquito net set-up

Danielle notes, “The more that people are aware of the circumstances of others, the more understanding we can be of their struggles. 

Here in the USA, we have the ability to enact change on a grand scale. With broader knowledge and ample resources, we can help the malaria cause even more.” This challenge not only spread awareness of malaria prevention and its tool-related demur but raised $1000 for Malaria Partners International.

The positive feedback from the Rotary Club of Duvall, along with Danielle’s hope for other clubs to adopt the challenge, signifies a pathway for growth and broader participation. Danielle reflected on the challenge’s potential for expansion, stating, “Elizabeth has a passion for bringing awareness to others regarding the malaria endemic. Through her efforts, we raised $1000 towards the cause. The challenge was well-received, and we hope to pass this challenge on to another local Rotary club to encourage more participation in the fundraising efforts.”

Concluding her experience ‘under the net’, Danielle invites everyone to reflect on the severity of malaria’s impact and the importance of compassion and action, “I am humbled from this experience and encourage others to gain more awareness around the malaria endemic. Have compassion for others, think beyond your bubble, and find ways to make a difference for the greater population of our world.

Sleeping under the net made me feel entirely grateful for what I have and more aware of the burden faced by those who rely on them for their health and safety. The at-risk population for this illness is reliant on others for the prevention and treatment of malaria.”

 

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