Plan Canada continues fight against malaria, adds Spread the Net to growing range of ways for Canadians to make a difference for children and families in Africa

TORONTO, July 16, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, through the addition of Spread The Net to its portfolio of projects fighting malaria across Africa, Plan Canada is pleased to offer Canadians a compelling new way to support children and families in the developing world.

Spread the Net - founded in 2006 by the Honourable Belinda Stronach, P.C., and comedian Rick Mercer - has delivered close to 563,000 malaria-preventing bed nets to families in Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Guinea.

"Around the world, one child dies every sixty seconds because of malaria, although it's a preventable and treatable disease," says Rosemary McCarney, Plan Canada President and CEO. "Plan has years of experience leading malaria prevention and treatment across Africa and we're grateful that Spread the Net will be joining us. By moving this program to Plan, we've increased our ability to both engage Canadians and prevent malaria across Africa."

Each year, more than 660,000 lives are lost to malaria, the majority of which are pregnant women and children under five. Simple bed nets have proven to be one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to prevent malaria, providing hope to millions. Spread the Net is a grassroots campaign designed to motivate, educate and inspire Canadians to help end preventable malaria deaths by raising funds and awareness to support the purchase and distribution of $10 bed nets to children and families in Africa.

"As part of a strategic evolution of the incredible work already achieved in protecting children from malaria thanks to the amazing support of Canadians from coast-to-coast, I am so pleased that Plan Canada will now be leading the Spread the Net campaign. Plan Canada has been a partner with Spread the Net for the past two years and together we have distributed over 40,000 bed nets," said The Honourable Belinda Stronach, P.C. "This is an amazing accomplishment but there is much more work to be done if we are to end preventable malaria deaths and this evolution for Spread the Net will allow our supporters, past and future, new opportunities to join in the fight against malaria."

The Spread the Net Student Challenge, championed by co-founder Rick Mercer since 2007 and supported by The Rick Mercer Report, inspires thousands of students across Canada to raise funds for the purchase and distribution of bed nets and engages them in learning about the challenges faced by children and families in the global South. Plan will continue this work with students across Canada as part of its growing outreach to Canadian youth.

"In the past five years, Plan Canada has nearly doubled its revenue, enabling us to both broaden and deepen our impact, improving the lives of families in more than 90,100 communities around the world," says McCarney. "The evolution of our partnership with Spread the Net will provide Canadian youth and adults with a compelling connection point for getting involved in this important issue."

Last month, Plan received global recognition for its malaria prevention work, receiving the Roll Back Malaria Award from West Africa's Roll Back Malaria Network. This award recognizes Plan's long-term commitment to fighting malaria in 12 countries across West Africa. Using a multi-pronged approach, over 10 million people, including women and children under five, have benefited from malaria prevention interventions implemented by thousands of Plan field staff, local community health workers and volunteers, and staff from partner organizations at local, provincial and national levels.

About Plan
Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world's oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan has only one agenda: to improve the lives of children. Because I am a Girl is Plan's global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls' rights and lift millions of girls - and everyone around them - out of poverty. Visit www.plancanada.ca and www.becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.

About Spread the Net
Spread the Net is a grassroots campaign designed to motivate, educate and inspire Canadians to help end preventable malaria deaths by raising funds and awareness to support the purchase and distribution of bed nets to children and families in Africa. Spread the Net was founded after Belinda Stronach and Rick Mercer traveled to Africa in 2006 with Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and at that time, the Director of the UN Millennium Project. It was there that they saw firsthand the devastating effects of malaria, and the shockingly simple bed net solution so out-of-reach for many thousands of African families. Visit www.spreadthenet.org for more information.

SOURCE: Plan Canada

For further information:

For media inquiries, contact:
Dena Allen, Corporate Communications Manager, Plan Canada
T: 416 920 1654 ext 326  |  C: 416 723 6340  |  dallen@plancanada.ca

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