Approximately a half million people die from malaria each year and many millions more are seriously weakened by it. Malaria is spread by mosquitoes. One bite from an infected mosquito can mean weeks of fever and exhaustion, preventing children from going to school and adults from working to provide for their families. Close to 90% of malaria cases occur in Africa.

Although malaria is treatable with anti-malarial drugs, these are often not available in the poorest areas. Instead, what has been found to be effective is mosquito nets for beds. This bed netting protects people from mosquitoes while they sleep at night, when the mosquitoes come out.

Bed nets cost as little as $3. Ideally, every person in the affected areas of Africa would be provided with a bed net. Besides saving lives, this would be an excellent economic investment, as the cost of malaria to Africans in lost productivity alone is estimated in the billions of dollars each year.

Sources: UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), Gates Foundation.

Note: The map display above is representational only and does not show the names and faces of real people. The photographs are computer composites of multiple individuals.