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World Malaria Day: UNICEF Canada calls on Canadians to join the fight against malaria

2009-04-22

TORONTO - April 22, 2009 - On World Malaria Day, April 25, UNICEF is calling on all Canadians to help the fight against malaria, the number one killer of children in Africa and the cause of almost one million deaths annually worldwide.

“Every 30 seconds a child in Africa dies of malaria, despite it being both a preventable and treatable disease,” said Nigel Fisher, President & CEO of UNICEF Canada. “On World Malaria Day, if every Canadian could take a moment to purchase an insecticide-treated bed net, we could help eliminate millions of avoidable deaths.”

Insecticide-treated bed nets are one of the most effective ways to prevent malaria. When distributed widely and used properly, bed nets can reduce malaria by at least 50 per cent and deaths of children by as much as 20 per cent.

UNICEF is the world’s largest global procurer and deliverer of insecticide-treated bed nets, with 20 million purchased in 2008 alone. The number of nets bought by UNICEF is 20 times greater today than in 2000. UNICEF and its national and international partners, aim to reach universal coverage by 2015.

“It’s a simple fact. Bed nets save lives,” said Fisher. “By purchasing $10 bed nets, Canadians can make a difference.”

Canadians are making their mark in the fight against malaria. To date, Canadians have raised funds to purchase nearly 371,000 bed nets through Spread the Net, a campaign co-founded in 2006 by Belinda Stronach and Rick Mercer. Partnering with UNICEF Canada, the campaign aims to raise funds for 500,000 bed nets that will help protect children in Liberia and Rwanda against malaria.

This past year, Rick Mercer championed a new campaign, Spread the Net Student Challenge, which brought together 50 campuses and 173 high schools across the country to raise awareness and bed nets for children in Liberia and Rwanda. Combined, the schools raised funds to purchase more than 32,400 bed nets. The top fundraising school, John F. Ross C.V.I from Guelph, Ontario raised $59,340 – enough to purchase nearly 6,000 bed nets.

“Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, UNICEF and Spread the Net are that much closer to reaching the goal of 500,000 bed nets for children in Liberia and Rwanda,” said Fisher. “By working together, we will continue to fight malaria one bed net at a time.”

UNICEF Canada asks all Canadians to join the fight against malaria. This Saturday, make your mark on World Malaria Day and purchase a bed net at: www.spreadthenet.org or by calling: 1-800-567-4483. 1 Net.10 Bucks. Save Lives. For more information visit: www.unicef.ca.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

About Spread the Net

Spread the Net is a largely web-based campaign designed to educate, motivate and inspire Canadians to help eradicate malaria by fundraising to support the purchase and distribution of anti-malarial bed nets. The campaign was founded in 2006 by Belinda Stronach and Rick Mercer and is powered by an innovative partnership with UNICEF Canada. For more information, please visit www.spreadthenet.org.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.