TCS Daily

Malaria Scores a Three-Pointer

By Roger Bate - March 17, 2006 12:00 AM

On Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden malaria became a high profile cause. Hip Hop founder Fab Five Freddy was on New York Knicks TV along with Lance Laifer, the founder of Dunk Malaria, to raise awareness of the disease. Around the Garden kids and adults alike were given the chance to dunk a mini-basketball in a mini-hoop, some donating cash as they went. And with the game going into double overtime everyone had plenty of time to dunk a ball.

From last weekend to this Sunday a unique initiative is underway, the brain child of Laifer, a hedge fund manager, and founder of Hedge Funds Against Malaria, to get as many people as possible throughout the world shooting baskets to raise awareness of the catastrophe that is malaria. Tens of millions of children will die from this disease, which is completely preventable, over the next ten years. Laifer says that the "natural tie in between basketball and malaria is basketball nets and bednets."

Readers will know that Africa Fighting Malaria, which I co-direct, is not a big fan of bed nets (as opposed to spraying insecticides, such as DDT, indoors), but it's a much easier sell to get people interested in malaria via bed nets than a straight argument over DDT. And it's not as if nets don't work -- they can and do -- so we're more than happy to go along and help the initiative. The Hedge Fund community has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for bed net purchases and distribution with the help of the Free Africa Foundation, and it is broadening its work into other anti-malaria activities. But the hedge fund community cannot do it alone and media work like the Dunk malaria stunt can bring in far more supporters to fight malaria.

"We strongly believe that the citizens of the world shouldn't be able to sleep while so many defenseless children are sent to their death by a mosquito. For this reason we are conducting the worlds first 24 hour dunk malariathon in NYC on March 19," continues Laifer.

Laifer wants anyone and everyone to take one shot on a basket anywhere in the world. "Shoot a hoop on a basket in your driveway and have in mind that you want to save a child's life. If you don't have a hoop in your driveway, go to a friend's house or a gym. If you can't make it to anywhere that has a basket, then shoot a virtual basket at Africa Fighting Malaria -- this is also a great place to research the disease and its pernicious effects on the children of the world," he concludes.

The partners are wide and varied ranging from the New York Knicks and the United Nations (you can view the press conference here) to World Swim for Malaria and it's easy to donate to the purchase of bed nets there. Other groups involved include the Malaria Foundation International, The Free Africa Foundation and Be the Cause -- for a full list of charities see this link.

If Sunday is too soon for you then AFM will be gearing up for a DC malariathon with Laifer on April 24, the day before World Malaria Day. Anyone wanting to participate can email me at

Malaria is one of the few diseases that is cheaply and easily prevented, but unlike HIV has no effective lobby or celebrity backers. Its continuing devastating impact should be a cause for anger and action, and if Fab Five Freddy has anything to do with it we might just start to see Hip Hop Against Malaria. Come on Kanye West; start bitching about something really important!

Roger Bate is a Director of Africa Fighting Malaria and a Resident Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.


The only sure way to get the Hip Hop community involved...
Just tell Kanye that Bush is in favor malaria and against DDT. Surely there's a conspiracy theory out there that says our president is planning to import malaria to finish off all those black people in New Orleans. It's a lot less messy than sending the National Guard down to shoot them afterall.
What I don't understand is why DDT was good enough to eradicate malaria in North America but not good enough to finish it off in Africa. Surely some NGO has an extremely complex answer to that question. In the meantime, children die.

the ban of DDT
Is the fault of some(pardon the pun) bird brain, who came up with the idea that DDT was thinning the shells of song birds. No scientific evidence whatsoever to back this up, mind you!!! She wrote the book "The Silent Spring" and all the left wing loonies bought into it hook, line & sinker. So! No birds were ever in danger, but it's worth the lives of millions of innocent HUMAN BEINGS, so you can feel important and play BS politics with environMENTALISTS. Why this is not being corrected and addressed by the government, I have no answer.

DDT & the Precautionary Principle
DDT was banned by world organizations based on an environmental movement philosophy of the "Precautionary Principle." I am not sure of the exact logic, but it appears to be "if there is any possibility that anything at all may or could possibly go wrong with a solution, until its safety can be proven beyond any doubt at all, do not do it or use it." Not reasonable doubt, but proven beyond any doubt at all. Some have asked where the saying
"lead, follow, or get out of the way" went?
The application of this principle has lead to the approach, do nothing. Meanwhile, miilions of innocent African children die each year we hold off erradicating the bugs that transmit the disease. And the United Nations gets another opportunity to tell Americans how stingy they are because we have not given the UN even more money to buy bed nets that are less than effective, to squander on Mercedes' for UN officials sons & daughters, (oops, I mean, to fight Malaria).

make your own DDT
As a mere physician who worked many years in Africa and who has treated thousands of cases of malaria, I do not have the immense stature of the author who runs some kind of NGO or a "rock star" who raises money.

Nevertheless, it is my humble privilege to point out that each and every one of the independent nations of Africa have the perfect right to manufacture their own DDT and spray it to their heart's delight. I do agree that DDT is far better than bednets as most Africans cook their suppers outside and spend the evening outside when the nasty little Anopheles are most apt to be biting.

The corruption, incompetence, and bureacracy of African governments is a far bigger problem than the ill-advised foci of various NGOs. Whether or not an NGO is wildly successful in either bednets or DDT, Africa will remain an abysmally impoverished and sad continent until its respective governments and its varied peoples come to grips with the necessity in their personal lives and in their governments of prudence, integrity, righteousness, hard work, and individual responsibility.

Faulty information
Could you explain to us exactly who the enemy is? Mr Bate seems to be making a career of pointing a finger toward evil entities like the UN, who are allegedly withholding this vital substance based on their misguided left wing philosophies, etc etc.

Only trouble is... it ain't so. Please take the trouble to read what the UN position is on indoor residual spraying.

God, I wish people could actually do their own research, and not just swallow whatever some nut on the web is telling them.

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