My Faults My Own

One's ponens is another's tollens.

Good News in the World!

Today, the Against Malaria Foundation announced that it's solidified plans to distribute 676,00 insecticide-treated bednets in central Africa! From AMF's blog:

"AMF has agreed to fund 676,000 LLINs for distribution in the province of Kasaï Occidental. The nets will be distributed from July to October 2014 to protect approximately 1.2 million people.

"The distribution is a partnership between AMF which will be funding all nets, the UK's Department of International Development (DFID) which will be funding all non-net costs through the ASSP (Access to Primary Health Care) project and IMA World Health which will be responsible for carrying out the distribution and post-distribution follow-up.

"DRC is one of the two most affected malaria countries in the world. Large scale net distributions therefore have the potential to make a significant improvement to the health of the communities protected."

What does "a significant improvement to the health of the communities protected" mean? And why is Ross so excited?

Okay, storytime. GiveWell is a research group investigating the effectiveness of various charities around the world (using metrics much more insightful than overhead-spending-ratio, which has been called "The worst way to pick a charity" by GiveWell, GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and others...). In short, they try to answer the question "If I donate $X to charity Y, what (good/bad) things will happen in the world?" with holistic, in-depth research resting on solid data. In short, they're pretty awesome.

AMF aims to fight malaria worldwide, with a primary goal of saving as many lives as possible (this is a little simplified, but approximately true) with the money available. The most effective option, they determined after in-depth survey of the literature and extensive field research, was "long-lasting insecticidal nets" (LLINs), which are hung over beds to protect residents of malaria-afflicted regions from being stung by disease-carrying mosquitoes while they sleep. GiveWell agreed with their analysis, and furthermore, believed that distributing LLINs was the best way to save the most lives with $X.

They continued to think so for several years, until the massive influx of funds to AMF began to overwhelm the (previously small, relatively unknown) organization's capacity to keep up. (Which is totally awesome, guys; you literally donated more money than the awesome AMF people could figure out what to do with!) Relatively recently, GiveWell bumped AMF from their list of top charities, citing a "lack of room for additional funding".

They were very clear that this wasn't because LLINs were any less of a great idea, but rather because AMF was having organizational hiccups finalizing deals to get them to people who really, really needed them. To quote GiveWell:

"We have been following its negotiations, and this post discusses why AMF has been unable to finalize a sufficiently large distribution. At this time, we plan not to recommend more donations to AMF until and unless it commits the bulk of its current funds to net distributions. Note that this decision does not reflect a negative view of AMF, but rather reflects room for more funding related issues. " [emphasis sic]

So this was sad. We had on hand literally the best technology ever developed for saving people's lives, and we couldn't get (enough of) it to the people who needed them. Okay, so back to the first paragraph of this post:

Today, the Against Malaria Foundation announced that it's solidified plans to distribute 676,00 insecticide-treated bednets in central Africa! From AMF's blog:

"AMF has agreed to fund 676,000 LLINs for distribution in the province of Kasaï Occidental. The nets will be distributed from July to October 2014 to protect approximately 1.2 million people.

"The distribution is a partnership between AMF which will be funding all nets, the UK's Department of International Development (DFID) which will be funding all non-net costs through the ASSP (Access to Primary Health Care) project and IMA World Health which will be responsible for carrying out the distribution and post-distribution follow-up.

"DRC is one of the two most affected malaria countries in the world. Large scale net distributions therefore have the potential to make a significant improvement to the health of the communities protected."

Sweet! 1.2 million people (~ the population of San Diego, CA or Dallas, TX) covered by bednets for 3 to 5 years? Approximately 2,100 lives saved (~ the number of people in my year at Harvard, plus my graduating class at Oakland Mills) from preventable disease? Good job, humanity! Let's wake up tomorrow and do it again!

Postscript: This looks cool, too!

Manu Prakesh: A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami, TED

arXiv link to Cybulski, Clements, and Prakesh's paper here.

Comments

Comments