Did you know that bed nets are the most cost-effective tool in preventing malaria? It costs only $10 to purchase a net, deliver it, and educate communities on its proper use. And according to the World Health Organization, the use of insecticide-treated bed nets has been shown to reduce malaria mortality rates by 55% in children under the age of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa.
This past November, I traveled to Arusha, Tanzania to visit the A to Z Textile Factory, one of the factories where life-saving bed nets are produced to help protect families from malaria. This manufacturing plant was created with a partner of the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign, Sumitomo Chemical Company. The plant is not only the sole bed net manufacturer in Africa, but it is also the largest in the world.
During my visit I was able to see first-hand the production of bed nets and meet the women and men who work tirelessly to ensure families have quality nets they can use to keep their children safe from malaria.
What struck me most from my conversation with Mr. Haria, A to Z Factory’s Chief Operating Officer, was the growth and impact the factory has had over the past 50 years, both in the fight against malaria and in boosting Tanzania’s economy.
The factory was founded in 1966 with three sewing machines. By 2010, 45 years later, they were producing 30 million bed nets per year. That is 200 nets, per person, per day! Not only is the factory’s production and growth remarkable, but so is its business model and corporate culture. They have a staff of 8,000 people, all from Tanzania, and over 75% of the employees who make bed nets are women
While I was touring the factory, I had the privilege of meeting Magnifique (left), a widow supporting her three children. Though producing 200 nets per day is strenuous, she works so that her children will be proud of her and because she knows she is making an impact on others’ health and well-being.
It is incredible to see how bed nets are not only protecting families from malaria, but also providing families with economic opportunities. Ten years ago, the UN Foundation launched the Nothing But Nets campaign to send nets and save lives with our UN partners. Please take a minute to look through pictures documenting this incredible trip.
Thanks to the support of caring individuals like our supporters, and partners like Sumitomo Chemical, we will continue to ensure that families are protected from deadly malaria and more children can grow up, be healthy, and thrive.
I look forward to the amazing work we can do together in 2017. To learn more about our work to defeat malaria, follow Nothing But Nets on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NothingButNets/.
[Photos: Daniel Hayduk for UN Foundation]