I'm not knocking the show for trying to do something good. I hope they help some people, although I suspect that good intentions don't have quite the impact that those people who give would hope. People who already give and serve the poor don't need celebrities to tell them to give to the poor.
I knew my blood pressure would soar watching although not closely last night. About a million people die every year from malaria. What is the response of many people? Give them a net to sleep under. (Or in the words of a certain French queen, let them eat cake!) Several things irritate me about this approach. Remember a few years ago when there was an outbreak of West Nile virus? The uproar bordered on hysteria. We won't stand for disease carrying misquitos, but we just throw nets at people in poor countries.
Second, the nets have to be treated with insectiside to be effective. The insecticide lasts anywhere from a few months to three years. After that, the nets have to be retreated. And if the nets are washed or get holes in them they lose there effectiveness. Nets reduce the mortality rate by about 20%. That's not good enough when there are other options.
The efforts must be combined with vector control, or abatement, and internal residual spraying. IRS was a part of the Global Malaria Eradication Campaign from 1955-1969. According to the CDC:
IRS with DDT and dieldrin was the primary malaria control method used during the Global Malaria Eradication Campaign (1955-1969). The campaign did not achieve its stated objective but it did eliminate malaria from several areas and sharply reduced the burden of malaria disease in others.
However the environmental movement decided that they didn't like DDT even though it was completely safe for humans. After pressure from groups like the Environmental Defense Fund the GMEC fell apart and the burden was placed upon poor third world countries. Eventually the United States government in the 80's officially threatened to withhold financial aid to countries that used pesticides such as DDT. When EDF chief scientist Charles Wurster was told that banning DDT would result in millions of deaths he replied, "This is as good a way to get rid of them as any."
If even hundreds of white Americans or Europeans were dying of malaria something would be done quickly. Because malaria kills the most in Africa and southeastern Asia, we throw nets at them. It's good that more attention is being paid. And some countries are using DDT again. So there's hope that thousands of lives can be saved. Sorry for the long post, but I become angry when people talk about misquito nets but don't follow up with medicine and spraying. People, especially children shouldn't have to die from preventable diseases when we have the power to help them.