On World Malaria Day, Plan International Canada is calling on Canadians to Spread the Net to help end malaria

TORONTO, ON – April 22, 2021 – Are hippos or sharks more deadly than a mosquito? A recent survey by Plan International Canada shows that most Canadians believe this to be true. In fact, 7 in 10 Canadians underestimate the number of deaths caused by mosquitoes each year, which is understandable given that in Canada, mosquitoes suck but they don’t kill. Globally, due to malaria and other diseases, mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals on earth and Canadians have the power to help.

Buy a mosquito net, save lives

This World Malaria Day (April 25th), Plan International Canada is calling on Canadians to join its #SpreadTheNet campaign and help people at risk of malaria access life-saving mosquito nets. Sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net is a simple yet powerful way to save lives by preventing mosquitoes from getting to people while they sleep. One mosquito net can help protect about two members in a family and lasts up to three years.

By visiting give.plancanada/spreadthenet, Canadians can start their own virtual fundraiser to help raise funds to end malaria and provide families with these much-needed mosquito nets.

A safety net for all

A quarter of Canadians surveyed said they are more afraid of coming face-to-face with a shark than a mosquito, even though sharks are only responsible for 129 deaths worldwide, while mosquitoes cause more than 400,000 deaths annually by infecting people with malaria. In fact, Canadians were also more afraid of sharks and bears than mosquitoes, neither of which kill nearly as many people annually.

Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, affecting 229 million people and killing over 400,000. Children under five years of age, pregnant women and adolescent girls are among the most vulnerable to this disease. According to the World Health Organization, in 2019, children under five years of age accounted for 67 per cent of all malaria deaths worldwide.

“What we need to recognize is that these appalling fatality rates can be brought down to zero. Malaria is preventable and curable,” says Magalie Nelson, Senior Health Advisor, Plan International Canada. “In the last two decades, the world has made tremendous progress in the fight against malaria, but not enough.” Much of the progress to end malaria can be attributed to insecticide treated mosquito nets. Sleeping under a mosquito net can protect children, women and their families from mosquitoes and are the most efficient and cost-effective way to mitigate the spread of malaria. Yet, only half of people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa currently sleep under an insecticide-treated mosquito net.

One of the reasons for this is the unequal access to malaria nets caused by harmful gender norms where household decisions are more often made by men than by women, and by the barriers to health information and services that women and girls can experience.

Plan International Canada works to ensure women have equal access to the mosquito nets and can make their own decisions about their health and the health of their children.

Plan International Canada partners with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria to implement programs supporting families at risk of these diseases, particularly women and children. We work together with community members, leaders and health workers to provide training, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and share life-saving information about their use and importance, while also addressing the root causes of gender inequality that girls and women face in every aspect of our work.

The goal to end malaria must continue alongside the fight against COVID-19

Since its inception in 2006, Plan International Canada’s #SpreadtheNet campaign has helped deliver 19 million mosquito nets to communities worldwide. Canadians have stepped up in the past to make a difference in the fight against malaria, and Plan International Canada is asking them to do this again, particularly now as communities are also battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plan International Canada is working to equip vulnerable communities with essential prevention tools like insecticide treated mosquito nets as well as distributing Personal Protective Equipment like face masks. This ensures hard fought gains are not lost during a single malaria transmission season.

“It is critical that efforts to prevent and treat malaria are sustained during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while ensuring equitable access to health care for children and women,” Magalie added.

About Spread the Net

Spread the Net is a Plan International Canada initiative designed to educate and inspire Canadians to help end preventable malaria deaths by raising funds and awareness to support the purchase and distribution of mosquito nets, along with training on their use, to children and their families around the world. Spread the Net was founded in 2006 by Belinda Stronach, P.C., and Rick Mercer, and became an initiative of Plan International Canada in July 2013. Visit for more information.

About Plan International Canada

Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan International has been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and is now active in more than 75 countries.

For media inquiries, contact:

Jessica Weingarten
Paradigm Public Relations

Plan International Canada