Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Judd: How a $10 net can stop a killer

CNN 360, Click here to watch the video

ROBERTS: Most people know Ashley Judd s an actress, but she is also an expert on simple things that could save millions of lives from the ravages of malaria, things like mosquito nets.

Ashley is the spokeswoman for Malaria No More, a group working to eradicate the deadly disease. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that a child in Africa dies from malaria every 30 seconds. That means that by the time that this segment is done, six children will have died. Think about that as you watch.


ROBERTS: What compelled you to get involved with this project, with this issue?

ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS/ACTIVIST: Well, 3,000 children dying a day of a mosquito bite is not acceptable to me. Malaria is preventable and treatable. And I'm very grateful to help be a part of the solution, especially by letting Americans know that for only $10, they can help a poor African buy a bed net and help save their life.

ROBERTS: Do me a favor. Explain what a bed net is and how that can help a child or adult save their life.

JUDD: A bed net is a simple technology. It is made out of muslin. It's one of those romantic things you saw billowing in "Out of Africa", for example. I have one here.

It has a simple loop which is attached to a ceiling and then it is generously sized so that it can completely surround a bed or perhaps the floor, on which the vulnerable person sleeps. It can accommodate more than one person.

And while they are under it, they are protected from the female mosquito, which carries the parasite that causes malaria. Again, it is very simple.

It is also pretreated with a long lasting insecticide, so this net can prevent malaria for up to five years. And it's so simple, but unfortunately, they're really not accessible right now to, especially, the rural Africans who most desperately need them.

And so the 25th of April is malaria awareness day in the U.S., the very first one. And all of us have the opportunity to help contribute these nets.

ROBERTS: You, the first lady, Laura Bush, also recently asking people to contribute $10 to buy these bed nets.

Do you find it difficult, though, to get Americans interested in a disease that doesn't really touch their lives -- there's not much incidence of malaria in this country -- and a disease that's prevalent in places that at least a half a world, if not more, away?

JUDD: Well, having the opportunity to talk on a show such as this is really helpful for raising awareness. And I believe, as President Truman said, that when Americans are given the facts they will do the right thing. And helping an African to prevent malaria is absolutely the right thing.

We're very fortunate in this country malaria was eradicated in 1951. The CDC, Center for Disease Control, actually is the result of our initial effort to eradicate malaria.

But Africans, unfortunately, don't have that opportunity right now. The infrastructure is poor. And it's -- you know, Malaria is this insidious, self-perpetuating poverty trap. There is $12 billion a year economic loss due to malaria, but it would only cost $3 billion a year to protect Africans from malaria.

ROBERTS: You've got the 360 soapbox beneath your feet now. What do you want Americans to do on the 25th?

JUDD: I want Americans to check out I also want them to check out I want them to reach deep into their pockets, get out that $10. Think of it as the cost of a pizza and for that, they can save an African's life.

ROBERTS: Ashley Judd, good to see you. Thanks very much. Appreciate it.

JUDD: Thanks so much.

Available at, click here (scroll down to the bottom of the page)

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