Three heartbreaking stories of families impacted by the Zika virus were highlighted this week in a Sunday New York Times article. Although last year’s Zika crisis is no longer making regular headlines, the World Health Organization now considers Zika a continuing health threat along the lines of Malaria or Yellow Fever. As the babies infected by Zika are getting older new challenges are arising for families, and new babies infected by the virus are still being born. Despite a vaccine in development, pregnant women in at risk areas have to live with the daily fear of exposing their unborn child to the virus. The founders of Maternova, a company that specializes in women’s health solutions, Meg Wirth and Allison Cote, realized that the world could not just sit around and wait for a vaccine to be developed. A process that, if successful, can sometimes still take years to get to the public. Women and babies are most directly impacted by the consequences of the virus, and with nothing on the market to help women to continue to live their daily lives, a viable everyday solution was needed.
“We realized with the increasing threat of Zika becoming an epidemic in South America and then entering the United States, that this was something that had direct dire consequences for pregnant women and their babies, and there wasn’t anything on the market that proved to be viable and be used everyday in order for these women to protect themselves.”
– Allyson Cote, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Maternova
The duo enlisted Alessandra Gold, a Brazilian-born, Miami-based award-winning designer to create a four piece capsule collection of mosquito repellent, yet fashionable, maternity clothing that women could wear every day. The idea was that the clothing would help to do during the day what mosquito netting does at night. Using a non-permethrin nano-technology patented in Europe the textile used in the garments has repellent embedded into it on a molecular level.
The NovaVeil collection features a dress, a cardigan with a hood, a scarf, and leggings, all designed to be comfortably worn in warm climates. Not only do the garments provide protection from the Zika virus but from other insect born illnesses such as Malaria, Dengue, and lyme disease. The goal was to appeal to and be able to reach women across the economic spectrum, so sales of NovaVeil garments in high end areas will help to subsidizes providing garments in lower income areas. It turns out that the cost per wear of the clothing, which remains effective through 50 wash cycles (and when tested was still 60% effective after 90 washes) will be less expensive than it would be to apply insect repellent every day. It is also better for the woman’s health, and for the environment.
“There is a massive amount of literature on bed nets and protecting women and families at nighttime from Malaria, but there was very little out there about protection during the daytime. In part that’s because this is a brand new technology.”
– Meg Wirth, Co-Founder of Maternova
Maternova partnered with Americares early on by adding a NovaVeil maternity top to anti-Zika mother kits they were already giving to their pregnant patients at a health clinic in El Salvador. The kits also contained condoms, bed nets, skin based repellent, and a water purification method. It is not surprising that a fast acting every-day solution in response to the Zika crisis that puts mothers and babies first would come from a social enterprise owned and run by women. The goal is to continue to offer the NovaVeil line at either no cost or low cost to distribution partners in Latin America in hopes of protecting some of the world’s most vulnerable women, while widening distribution so that pregnant women everywhere can feel safe from the threat of Zika in their everyday lives.
This is an original post written by Elizabeth Atalay for World Moms network.
“If you think you’re too small to make a difference you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito”.‐ African proverb
The figures are staggering. According to the World Health Organization: “About 3.2 billion people – nearly half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. In 2015, there were roughly 214 million malaria cases and an estimated 438,000 malaria deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 89% of malaria cases and 91% of malaria deaths. In areas with high transmission of malaria, children under 5 are particularly susceptible to infection, illness and death. More than two-thirds (70%) of all malaria deaths occur in this age group. In 2015, about 305,000 African children died before their fifth birthdays” making malaria the leading killer of children in Africa. (Source: WHO 2015 statistics).
Although these figures are frightening, what is even more shocking is that these deaths are entirely preventable. Per the World Health Organization, “Increased prevention and control measures have led to a 60% reduction in malaria mortality rates globally since 2000”. This is amazing progress that brings hope that we will be able to wipe malaria off the face of the earth forever.
Eradicating malaria is the dream of South African-based Goodbye Malaria, an organization I interviewed to learn how a team of African entrepreneurs, predominantly women sprayers and socially minded businesses, are coming together to “save a life in your sleep” and eradicate malaria in their lifetime. Here’s their story.
Goodbye Malaria began as a dream of successful African entrepreneur, Robbie Brozin, founder of Nando’s food chain. Robbie traveled throughout the African continent with Humanitarian adventurer, Kingsley Holgate, who is known as the most traveled man in all of Africa. During their travels, Robbie realized that malaria was killing so many people and no one was doing anything about it. In fact, malaria is the number one killer of children in Africa, yet is entirely preventable.
Inspired to do good and fight to end malaria, Brozin along with three other African entrepreneurs founded Goodbye Malaria in February 2013. Goodbye Malaria helps to raise funds to support on the ground malaria elimination programs in Mozambique, to educate and advocate against malaria all while creating employment across the continent. Their beautiful online shop which sells products that “save a life in your sleep” offers African-made pajamas, bracelets, slippers, pencil boxes and teddy bears, all which employ local women and protect families in Mozambique against malaria.
How it works:
Goodbye Malaria employs a crew of both male and female sprayers (over 70% of the sprayers are women) who go house to house within the communities and spray the inside of the homes with a specially formatted insecticide to kill malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Goodbye Malaria provides extensive training for the sprayers whose job is not easy. They must wear heavy, protective uniforms and masks in often very hot weather. Yet, the job is rewarding and there has been much success. In Southern Mozambique’s Maputo Province, the results from a preliminary pilot project from the first Goodbye Malaria spray round started in October 2013 show that the population of Boane district has been protected for two consecutive years, and prevalence has been reduced by 70%.
Goodbye Malaria Women Sprayers
Although Goodbye Malaria is based in South Africa, South Africa does not have malaria. Mozambique was a logical place for Goodbye Malaria to start their work since it borders South Africa, has a high rate of malaria transmission, and also has special ties with the Nandos and Goodbye Malaria founder Robbie Brozin. Nando’s famous chicken originated in Mozambique. Their award-winning “peri-peri” sauce is made from red hot chilis grown there. Goodbye Malaria works directly with the government of Mozambique and other non-profit organizations on the ground in two large areas of the country. Roughly 200,000 people have been impacted by their work yet there is much more to do.
“Save a Life in your Sleep”:
Goodbye Malaria operates as a Social Benefit Organization (SBO) not a NGO (non-governmental organization) meaning in addition to outside funding, they also use profits from products to go directly to support their operations on the ground. Goodbye Malaria’s tagline is “Save a Life in your Sleep”. By shopping at Goodbye Malaria’s online store, your purchase helps in two ways. First, by creating jobs that support local South African entrepreneurs. Second, the proceeds directly fund the spray program in Mozambique.
The head of Goodbye Malaria’s merchandizing, Kim Lazarus explained that the products are all about changing lives and saving lives. There is a link between how woman in South Africa are making products that will make a difference in the lives of their sisters in Mozambique. It is a wonderful concept.
The online shop at Goodbye Malaria offers some wonderful products for sale and provides shipping right in the US. Every product is made in South Africa, and the products are 100% transparent, sustainable and ethically sourced.
Homemade “Shwe Shwe” pajama bottoms: Shwe Shwe is a popular South African fabric. It is bright, colorful and authentic. The idea behind the pajamas is that you are covered at night while someone else sleeps safely at night in Mozambique (as mosquitos mostly bite at night). They also make pencil boxes, hats, and slippers out of the same cotton fabric.
Teddy Bears: The homemade teddy bears are another special story. Each bear is unique and made by a different woman. The bears are called the “Mashozi” bear which means “the woman wears the pants”. The name came after Kinsley’s late wife who was an inspiration.
Bracelets: The Goodbye Malaria bracelets are made by the “go gos” – a term used for grannies who watch children who lost their parents from HIV/AIDS. Making the beads and bracelets provides them with extra income and they also involve the children in the process.
I thoroughly enjoyed my Skype call with co-founder Kim Lazarius. When I ended the call, I sat in wonder and amazement feeling completely inspired that there are such amazing people in the world doing good and saving lives, with passion. I instantly ordered a pair of Goodbye Malaria pajama bottoms for myself for the holidays. When I wear them, I can think about how fortunate I am to not have to worry about malaria but also that I’m hopefully saving a life while I sleep.
To learn more about Goodbye Malaria, click here. To view their online shop, click here.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Nicole Melancon of ThirdEyeMom.com.
In 2000, 189 nations made a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. This pledge turned into the eight Millennium Development Goals, and was written as the Millennium Goal Declaration .- United Nations Development Programme
The goals of MDG #6 are to combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases. This month we are thrilled to continue our #Moms4MDG campaign by joining forces with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to take on the topic of preventable infectious diseases.
The goals of Millennium Development Goal # 6 are:
- A. To Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
- B. By 2010, to have achieved universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it
- C. To have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works tirelessly to support research, solutions and implementation towards improving global health.
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.-www.gatesfoundation.org
Meet us over at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation blog Impatient Optimists today to read the guest post by World Moms Blog contributor Erin Threlfall!
We will be co-hosting two #Moms4MDGs Twitter Parties with The Gates Foundation, Multicultural Kid Blogs, InCulture Parent and Girls Globe tomorrow, January 15th at 1-2pm EST and 9-10pm EST, so please join us!
A big THANK YOU, to three amazing sites, Multicultural Kid Blogs, InCulture Parent and Girls Globe for joining us in the rally towards the UN’s Development Goals this month with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation!
P.S. Never been to a twitter party before? Go to www.tweetchat.com and put in the hashtag: “#Moms4MDGs during the party times. From there you can retweet and tweet, and the hashtag will automatically be added to your tweets. You can view all of the other party tweets at that hashtag as well!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Voice Editor, Elizabeth Atalay of Documama in Rhode Island, USA.