Bed Nets for Children

child asleep under bed netThe CDC Foundation's Bed Nets for Children Program helps CDC teams working in Kenya and Haiti purchase and distribute insecticide-treated bed nets to help protect children and families from malaria. Malaria is a leading cause of death and disease worldwide. In Africa, a child dies from malaria every 60 seconds.

To celebrate World Malaria Day 2013, CDC Foundation purchased 1,500 bed nets for CDC to distribute.

You can help! Join CDC Foundation in purchasing a bed net today.

What is malaria?

Malaria is caused by a parasite carried by the Anopheles mosquito. People with malaria typically are very sick with high fevers, shaking chills and flu-like illness, and they can die if they do not receive proper medical treatment. Pregnant women and children under 5 who have little to no immunity are more likely to become severely ill and die.

Malaria typically is found in tropical and subtropical countries where higher temperatures allow the Anopheles mosquito to thrive. Malaria parasites, which grow and develop inside the mosquito, need warmth to complete their growth before they are mature enough to be transmitted to humans.

In sub-Saharan Africa, mosquitoes transmit malaria very efficiently, and the type of malaria parasite most common in the region causes severe, potentially fatal disease. Health experts face many challenges to building solid malaria control programs in the region, including an overall lack of resources, political instability and the emergence of malaria parasites that are increasingly resistant to antimalarial drugs.

What is an insecticide-treated bed net?

A bed net is a net that hangs above a sleeping space, usually a bed or matt, and provides a physical barrier between the malaria-carrying mosquito and the person at risk of getting the disease. An insecticide-treated bed net protects the person sleeping under the net even if the net has small holes in it, because the insecticide kills mosquitoes that do get through the net before they reach the sleeping person. Since insecticide-treated nets kill the mosquitoes, they help reduce malaria transmission community-wide (if there is high use of insecticide-treated nets in the community).

Bed nets have been shown to greatly reduce malaria morbidity and mortality, especially in children under 2 years of age. The World Health Organization has reported a 25% decrease in malaria deaths globally and a 33% reduction in malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000.

Even where insecticide-treated nets have been recommended for all children under 5 years, most children do not sleep under a bed net. A long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net costs an average of $5 and protects up to three children. Unfortunately, this cost is too high for most families in poor rural African communities who survive through subsistence farming.

How does CDC distribute bed nets? Who benefits?

The CDC Foundation's Bed Nets for Children Program provides insecticide-treated bed nets to CDC-affiliated programs in Africa and Haiti. Since 2006, the CDC Foundation has raised over $80,000 to help CDC purchase bed nets.

CDC has been working in western Kenya since 1979 and has long-established networks and partners in the region. Currently a team of CDC scientists is collaborating with Rotary International on a safe drinking water and AIDS project. As part of the project, CDC teams go door-to-door in one of the poorest areas in Kenya and conduct interviews to collect data on births, deaths, pregnancies, etc. With funding from the Foundation's Bed Nets for Children program, the team now hand-delivers insecticide-treated bed nets to children and pregnant women as they conduct these interviews, ensuring that bed nets are delivered directly to those most at risk for malaria. CDC teams also distribute bed nets to orphanages and children’s groups in the region that care for HIV-infected or -affected children.

Learn more about CDC's malaria work.