Philanthropy just got easier and a lot more accessible to the public thanks to the social networking power of the Internet and a ground-breaking initiative led by our team at the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health (MRC). And just in time for World Malaria Day this Friday, April 25th.
At MalariaEngage.org, people can enlist directly in the anti-malaria battle by contributing $10 or more to an initial choice of seven highly varied projects involving selected scientists in developing countries. Over time, new projects will replace those that reach their funding goal. The site features a discussion area where supporters can interact with researchers and each other, obtain news and photos of both funded and proposed projects, a running tally of money raised, and stories from the front lines in the war against the scourge of malaria.
Borne by mosquitos, malaria is a preventable disease that infects an estimated 515 million people yearly and kills between one and three million annually, the vast majority of them children in sub-Saharan Africa. It is the leading cause of death in Tanzania, where the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) researchers proposed the initial suite of seven cutting-edge projects chosen to launch MalariaEngage.org.
MalariaEngage.org will fit seamlessly into other social networking sites such as Facebook, whose users can add malaria research projects as a “cause” on their profile, join groups of project supporters, and communicate with others dedicated to helping eradicate malaria.
As demand for MalariaEngage.org increases, we’ll add new African research institutions proposing new projects. Our dream is to keep scaling until no good idea from a bright African scientist is wasted for lack of research funding.
One of the most significant ethical challenges facing the world today is the inequity in global health. Life expectancy in industrialized countries is 80 years and rising; whilst in some Afrcian countries it is 40 years and falling. Solidarity must be the key ethical value underlying efforts to do something about these inequities. MalariaEngage.org gives people in the global internet community a channel to act on the ethical value of solidarity.
Malaria is an ongoing global health catastrophe that must be addressed by empowering researchers in the developing world to find solutions to their countries’ own problems through creative, properly capitalized research programs. Tapping the talent and motivation of developing country scientists is critical if we’re going to win this fight.
The McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy is based at the University Health Network and the University of Toronto. Created in 2001 and led by Professors Abdallah Daar and Peter A. Singer, the program works at the nexus of life sciences, the developing world and entrepreneurship, using scholarly research to help move health technologies from “lab to the village.”