Photo by Stuart Ramson.
Whether or not you are a basketball fan, you have probably heard the name Stephen Curry. The Akron, OH native and Golden State Warriors point guard is considered by some to be the greatest shooter in NBA history. Last year alone, he won the NBA Championship and was voted the NBA Most Valuable Player after posting averages of 23.8 points, 7.7 assists and 2 steals per game. However, Curry is my favorite player because of the amount of time he spends off the court helping vulnerable people. Although Curry works hand in hand with various organizations to address a long range of issues, I am mostly fascinated by his efforts to address Malaria in third world countries.
Why Malaria, you ask?
To those who are not familiar with this disease, Malaria is a deadly mosquito-borne disease that affects millions of people in African countries and around the world. Growing up in West Africa, I’m aware of what it’s like to have Malaria; I’ve had it many times. Each of those times, I had to be hospitalized for days. According to netsforlifeafrica.org, over half a million (627,000) people die from malaria each year — mostly children younger than five years old. There are an estimated 207 million cases of malaria each year. Although the vast majority of malaria cases occur in sub-Saharan Africa, the disease is a public-health problem in more than 109 countries in the world, 45 of which are in Africa; 90% of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.
Malaria costs an estimated $12 billion in lost productivity in Africa. When insecticide-treated nets are used properly by three-quarters of the people in a community, malaria transmission is cut by 50%, child deaths are cut by 20%, and the mosquito population drops by as much as 90%. It is estimated that less than 5% of children in sub-Saharan Africa currently sleep under any type of insecticide-treated net. It is estimated that a child dies every minute of malaria.
Needless to say, living in this part of the world and having access to insecticide-treated nets is a life or death matter. Stephen Curry has been a great supported of the United Nations Nothing but Nets Campaign which is leading the movement to end Malaria. Starting in the 2012-2013 season, Curry pledged to donate 3 live-saving bed nets for every 3 points made to the Nothing but Nets Campaign. This might seem like a small act of kindness until you realize that Curry also holds the NBA record for most consecutive games with a made three-pointer (131). According to the White House official website, Curry also visited the White House in 2015 and delivered a speech to dignitaries as part of President Barack Obama’s launch of his President’s Malaria Initiative strategy for 2015-2020.
As an African native, and a Stephen Curry fan, I can honestly say that I am very proud of the role model he has grown up to become and my hope is that thanks to his efforts in the fight against Malaria, more professional athletes will start working with nonprofits and organizations such as the U.N. to help vulnerable people in their communities and all over the world.