Statement made on 25 April 2007 by Senator Rod Zimmer (retired)
Hon. Rod A. A. Zimmer:
Honourable senators, for most Canadians, the word “net” conjures up positive images, thanks to the protective connotation of terms such as “social safety net” and, at this time of season, with the Stanley Cup playoffs, “hockey nets.” In many African countries, nets provide for needs on a more fundamental level, by preventing the spread of malaria.
Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is endemic in most of sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of North Africa, and its toll on human life is grim. It claims more than 1.3 million lives a year, and in it is the largest single cause of death of children under five years of age. Pregnant women are also particularly vulnerable as malaria infection increases the risk of maternal and neonatal death, miscarriage and stillbirth.
Honourable senators, there is hope for curbing the transmission of this dreadful disease. Insecticide-treated bed nets provide a physical barrier at night when mosquitoes are most likely to deliver their devastating bites. Bed nets have been shown to reduce malaria transmission by up to 50 per cent, and at a cost of only $10, one net can protect a child for up to five years. Since several children and adults may use one net, it can protect several lives.
Spread the Net is a campaign whose objective is to raise enough funds to purchase 500,000 bed nets. Its co-founders, the Honourable Belinda Stronach, Rick Mercer and Nigel Fisher of UNICEF Canada, recently announced that Liberia will receive 33,000 nets. On a recent visit to Ottawa, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf expressed her great appreciation for the donation, which will surely help save the lives of many children in her country.
Honourable senators, today is Africa Malaria Day. Please join me in recognizing the ongoing effort of projects such as Spread the Net and in celebrating the young lives that will be spared the ravages of malaria.