I was raised in a vibrant community surrounded by a strong culture, a proud people, and a loving family, but in my home country of Senegal, I also witnessed a great deal of poverty, sickness, and hunger. The anopheles mosquito that bites and transmits the malaria parasite is not concerned with differences in race, country of origin, blood type or any other characteristic; all it sees is blood to feed on. We are one human race, and we must be each other’s protection. When it comes to malaria, in Senegal some of us are more fortunate than others.
We live in a world where almost 430,000 people die annually from a preventable, mosquito-borne disease called malaria. Children, pregnant women, and refugees are at highest risk for contracting this disease. But there is no excuse, considering that it is 100% preventable.
The desire to help one another is one of the most primal instincts we, as human beings, have, so it is essential that we use our humanity to drive positive change and the betterment of mankind. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
With the support I gained as a Nothing But Nets champion and the help of my family and friends from Alima International Dance Association, I have been able to hold educational and fundraising events at different campus in both Rhode Island and Connecticut. I have also met with my members of congress to share the importance of this work and how crucial it is for them to continue to support US leadership in the fight against malaria.
Last March, Senegal launched its first national universal coverage insecticide-treated bed net campaign, distributing over 8 million long-lasting insecticide treated nets nationwide. 1.9 million of these nets were procured by the President’s Malaria Initiative, a program that Nothing But Nets consistently advocates for.
The United States of America is viewed as a leader in the world of global health, and many countries count on us to pave the way.
With great influence, however, comes great responsibility, and the work we are doing with Nothing But Nets is therefore of great importance. Let us remember that we are all one. And like the mosquito that does not discriminate on its host, we must not neglect our duty to help our fellow human beings. We are one people; one human race; one world.
Rama Ly is a current member of the Nothing But Nets Champions Council