Social Network Counters Malaria
Malaria affects approximately 515 million people each year and kills between one and three million, one-third of whom are children. Having had a close up view of the mosquito-based disease during a visit to Africa, a young British entrepreneur has created a social networking site that aims to fight it.
Malaria affects approximately 515 million people each year and kills between one and three million, one-third of whom are children. Malaria disproportionately affects poor countries with 58 per cent of the cases occurring in the poorest 20 per cent of the world population. Not only is malaria a killer disease is also a cause of poverty and a major hindrance to economic development.
Having had a close up view of the mosquito-based disease during a visit to Africa, a young British entrepreneur has created a social networking site that aims to fight it.
Tom Hadfield, a 25 year-old fourth year political science student set up soccer Website, Soccer.net eight years ago in his bedroom. He then sold it for $40 million to US sports network ESPN and now hopes to utilise the communities more commonly associated with social networking sites such as Facebook to help combat malaria.
The new site, MalariaEngage. org was created by the Harvard university student Hadfield with health professors Peter A. Singer and Abdallah S. Daar, after he visited Zambia last summer. The site encourages visitors to help support seven different research projects in Tanzania.
"I believe in the power of friends telling friends telling friends," Hadfield told Reuters in an interview.
"Our dream is tens of thousands of people will use social networking tools to build a movement that eradicates malaria. Travelling across Africa and seeing the devastation caused by malaria made me realise there was more to life than putting up soccer scores."
During his trip to Africa, Hadfield discovered how researchers working on treatment for malaria were hindered by a lack of resources.
"It’s shocking that thousands of people are dying every day from a preventable disease. When I came back from Africa last summer, a lot of people asked me what they can do to help," he said.
Hadfield also sees the site as more than fundraising tool. By connecting donors directly to researchers, the site looks to make the most of their collective intelligence.
"MalariaEngage.org increases the return on investment of donors by connecting them directly with researchers working on malaria prevention treatment," said Hadfield.
"It’s about more than about giving money - it’s about creating connections. By encouraging individual participation and involvement, we will create international communities of common interest. This is the essence of social networking."