MTV News Tips Our Collective Hat to 'Malaria No More'

Today, on Malaria Awareness Day, MTV News producer Garth Bardsley thinks back on his recent visit to Houston, and the boatload of important info he picked up along the way:

Apparently I’m an idiot. Wasn’t malaria essentially eradicated from the planet way back in the 50’s? Or even if it didn’t completely disappear, wasn’t it highly contained, and the few people who caught it were just given a few pills and sent on their way?

Uh, well, nope. While malaria has been contained in the US since the 1950’s and Panama even earlier, in sub-Saharan Africa a child dies from the disease every 30 seconds -- that’s over 1 million deaths a year -- from a disease that’s both treatable and preventable! Ridiculous. And there’s even evidence that links global warming to an increase in the endemic zones.

In anticipation of Malaria Awareness Day, I went to Houston last week -- along with Chamillionaire -- to visit with a bunch of kids at YES Prep, a fantastically amazing charter school dedicated to educating economically disadvantaged youth. While there’s no doubt some of these kids could choose to spend their time bellyaching about what life has handed them, the students at this school -- which has a 100% acceptance rate to four-year colleges -- instead dedicate themselves to serving others.

Through raffle-ticket sales at two different dances in the last few months, the YES Prep students have raised $1,250 to buy mosquito-protecting bed nets to send to Africa. That dough will fun 125 nets, preventing 250 people from ever getting malaria. The organization behind the dances, Malaria No More (recently featured on "Idol Gives Back"), has set a completely attainable(!) goal of getting a bed net to everyone who needs one by the year 2010. They estimate needing 250 million nets. So far, they have enough money to fund 131 million -- over half of the way there.

Obviously, the goal of events like Malaria Awareness Day is to raise awareness, so morons like me know what’s going on. Consider me schooled.