Take Action: Malaria

Mosquito about to bite someone, illustrating how malaria is spread
  • Malaria is a disease spread by mosquitoes and is a leading cause of child mortality in the developing world.
  • There are proven ways of treating and preventing malaria, including insecticide-treated nets for protection from mosquitoes.

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Source: GiveWell

Malaria is a leading cause of death in much of the developing world yet it is both preventable and curable. A solution would be providing free insecticide treated bed-nets (ITNs)to obtain maximum protection and reduce disease burden.

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Source: Innovations for Poverty Action

 

The two programs in the table below have been proven to reduce death and suffering from malaria:

ProgramResultCostMore information
Insecticide-treated nets (ITNs)Hung over windows or beds, nets kill or repel mosquitos, reducing the risk of infectionApproximately $200-$1,100 per life saved and 300 non-fatal episodes avertedIn-depth evidence review
Drug treatmentAntimalarial drugs are highly effective in curing malariaReliable estimate not availableIn-depth evidence reivew

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Source: GiveWell

  1. Provide free ITNs in high malaria prevalence regions to obtain maximum protection and reduce disease burden.
  2. Favor clinics as distribution facilities, as this encourages women to come in for antenatal care.

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Source: Innovations for Poverty Action

When used appropriately, insecticide-treated nets and malaria drugs can save lives quite cost-effectively (though not for the "$10" sometimes advertised).

However, drugs must be administered properly, and insecticide-treated nets must reach target populations (children and pregnant women) and be consistently and correctly used. Donors should ask how charities are monitoring these issues.

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Source: GiveWell

Instead of charging a subsidized price for these life-saving mosquito nets, free distribution leads to much greater take-up. Distributing bed nets at prenatal clinics enables pregnant women to protect themselves and their young children. A common belief and practice is to charge for health products like bed nets so that their owners value them more, leading to proper and constant usage, yet studies looking at this very question have provided evidence that free distribution did not actually increase wastage in these circumstances. Charging subsidised prices also substantially reduced access in some parts.

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Source: Innovations for Poverty Action