Bug nets saving lives

Colin MacLean
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RIVER HEBERT - Mosquitoes are an unfortunate fact of life, but for many people in Africa a bite can be a matter of life or death.

Malaria is a parasitic disease that can have a debilitating affect on adults and can prove fatal to children, the elderly and those with weak immune systems.

Rita Smith is a retired nurse who is involved with the Canadian Red Cross. She spent Monday morning speaking to high school students in River Hebert High School about the affect the disease has on people and what they can do to help stop it.

Just $7 buys a mosquito net, sends it to Africa and pays to have somebody deliver it to a village, she said.

One of the things that strikes me is just how preventable it is.

The large shear mesh nets are treated with an insect repellant, which is good for five years. They are extremely affective and have been distributed in large quantities by organizations like the Red Cross for years.

But despite best efforts more than one million people die every year from malaria, most of which are children. The young are so vulnerable they can die within 24 hours of being bitten, she said.

All those little ones that could be geniuses, and were loosing them.

Lesley Parliament-Taylors class is listening to the presentation this morning. She believes the kids have been responding well.

They quite often feel powerless when it comes to things like this, so when theyre told they can make a difference they take it to heart, she said.

You see it on their faces when they realize it.

When she asked her class how many would be spending five dollars or more on lunch, about half the class raised a hand. For a couple of dollars more they could help save a life, she said.

Smith is also looking for students who would be interested in helping out with fundraising. One idea that got a lot of interest was paying for teachers to stay under a mosquito net.

Im pretty enthusiastic about their response, said Smith.

Organizations: Red Cross, River Hebert High School

Geographic location: Africa, RIVER HEBERT

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