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Veterinarians Combat Malaria
One Net at a Time

A $10 bill could buy a movie ticket, 2.5 gallons of gas or lunch. For University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine faculty, $10 buys a mosquito net that protects an African refugee from malaria. Carolyn Henry, associate professor and director of the Scott Endowed Program in Veterinary Oncology, organized “Vets for Nets” to raise money for mosquito nets for refugees at a transit center in Conakry, Guinea that houses refugees in need of medical attention.

“Veterinarians have considerable training in the area of infectious diseases, so they know how malaria is spread and what a mosquito net could do for a refugee,” Henry said. “They knew by donating to Vets for Nets that they were doing something that could make a big difference. Ten dollars could potentially save a life.”

Henry started Vets for Nets by sending an initial e-mail to her colleagues asking for donations for money to buy nets. Within 45 minutes, Henry had raised half of the money she needed and was able to raise the full amount in two days. Working with a contact in Conakry, Henry arranged for purchase of the nets in Guinea and delivery to the 43 refugees at the transit center.

The refugees at the transit center are a diverse group of people from Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Many have suffered serious, long-term injuries from the civil wars in their countries. With rising food costs, the refugees can barely afford to eat. Buying a $10 mosquito net to protect themselves against malaria is a luxury they cannot afford, Henry said.

“Nobody claims these people,” Henry said. “The United Nations closed their refugee camp in Conakry more than a year ago, and many of the refugees are afraid to go back to their home countries after what happened to them. They are stuck in no-man’s land, living on no more than a $1.50 a day.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, malaria kills an estimated 1 million people a year and mostly affects young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Henry hopes to make Vets for Nets a national organization and plans to work with the Against Malaria Foundation to raise additional money for nets for family members of the 43 refugees she helped this spring and others like them. For more information, visit the Vets for Nets Web site at: http://www.AgainstMalaria.com/Vets4Nets.

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Last Update: February 24, 2012