An introduction to malaria prevention

Malaria needs little introduction. It’s a mosquito borne disease that is one of the leading killers of children in poor countries, causing about a million deaths a year. It also imposes a huge burden through half a billion non-fatal infections a year. Yet it can be prevented very cheaply, with bednets that cost about $6 in total to distribute when you donate to our recommended charity, the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF). At less than the price of a beer, that’s an extremely good buy!

Why bednet distribution is so effective

Malaria parasites cause vomiting, headaches and fever, which are unpleasant enough, but if left untreated can quickly develop into a life-threatening condition. Unfortunately the parasites have developed resistance to many antimalarial drugs, so prevention is doubly important. This is where bednets come in. Because most mosquito bites happen at night, hanging an insecticide-treated net around your bed can keep you safe. This is especially vital for children, who die most often; theirs are the lives that you’ll likely be saving if you give to AMF.

Bednet distribution is one of the most cost-effective things you can fund. The scientific evidence for this is unparalleled: multiple randomized controlled trials all showing the same thing, with backing from the widely-respected Cochrane review, which evaluates all the scientific evidence available for medical interventions. Having rigorously evaluated AMF, the scientifc charity evaluator GiveWell says that if you give to AMF you can be confident that you’re saving lives.

What’s the best bednet distribution charity?

logo_AMF_SquareWe recommend the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF), discussed above. We’ve worked closely with them, and they’re an exceptional charity in every respect. Not all bednet charities are created equal, and AMF outperforms the rest on every count. They can distribute nets cheaper than any other charity, for just $6.13 US. They distribute long-lasting nets which don’t need retreating with insecticide. They are extremely transparent and monitor their own impact carefully, requiring photo verification from each net distribution.

For all these reasons they’ve been singled out by GiveWell. For more information, you can read GiveWell’s detailed reviews of AMF and of bednet distribution in general, or visit AMF’s website.