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The Save A Life program uses donations to provide Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) to protect individuals from contracting malaria. Malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. LLINs offer a simple and cost-effective way to prevent these deaths by protecting the individuals that are most likely to contract the disease.
This is a difficult question because a truthful yet somewhat misleading answer could quantify the cost to save a life by only calculating the cost of the intervention to saves a person's life. For example, an organization may specialize in distributing preventative vaccinations to people at risk of contracting Measles at a cost of $0.14 per vaccine.(1) This organization could technically promote that their cost to save a life is just $0.14 since that is the cost of the vaccination that they administer through their program. However, we feel that the true cost to save a life should be determined by incorporating the additional cost associated with making the vaccine available such as organization overhead, distributing the vaccine, and tracking effectiveness once the vaccine is distributed.
A closer look at effectiveness also forces us to consider the true number of lives saved as a result of the vaccine distribution. Statistically, if just 10% of the people that received the vaccine would have contracted Measles, then the $0.14 vaccine would actually cost $1.40 per life saved. This cost would increase further when we consider the aforementioned expenses of organizational overhead.
The following factors include "all-in" costs to save lives, in a scalable and repeatable way:
Because the target outcome for this program is to save lives, we do not measure success by the number of nets being distributed, but by the statistical estimate of lives saved using LLINs as an intervention.
$5.31 = 1 Long-lasting insecticidal net (LLIN)
651 LLINs = 1 life saved
We estimate that 651 nets an average cost of $5.31 per net(3), costing approximately $3,461, to be a reliable calculation for statistically saving the life of one person.
These figures also factor in the cost of distribution, as well as operational and administrative expenses necessary to deliver LLINs through the Against Malaria Foundation. Below are some additional facts a figures we have taken from this program's federal tax filings.
When you commit to support the Save A Life program you are committing to help save someone that you will likely never meet in person; malaria is not generally an issue for those of living in the U.S. However, this does not make it in any less relevant for the 400,000+ people that die from the disease each year.
Malaria is clearly an issue worth fighting. However, simply identifying the issue without also taking into consideration the most effective solutions for combating the issue would be a mistake. Based on a significant amount of research, using nets to fight malaria is currently the most effective solution to save lives. (8) The LLINs that are used not only help to protect individuals from coming in contact with the infected insect, but they also help kill the infected insects that come in contact with the net itself.
Our decision to raise money for AMF was most heavily influenced by the research conducted by GiveWell. Givewell an organization that focuses primarily on evaluating charities based on their effectiveness. Their full research report on the Against Malaria Foundation can be found here.
Yes. In fact, interventions have already successfully eradicated malaria in the Netherlands, and reduced malaria infections by more than 95% in Vietnam(4). The expertise, distribution channels, and plans for eradicating malaria worldwide exist, but lack of funding has prevented us from making more progress.
Consider this, charitable giving by sector between 2013-2015 shows that U.S. international giving has averaged approximately 5% of all giving.(5) This is roughly the same level of giving as the arts during the same time period. Considering that total giving for 2014 was approximately $358 billion(6), imagine what progress could have been made if we simply increased our international giving efforts to 10%!
In our search for the most cost effective way to save a person's life we have come across a myriad of projections, opinions, and calculations. Ultimately our final decision on which model to support was based on research from respected third party sources that have conducted in-depth evidence based studies. The organizations responsible for these reports have far greater scale and resources than our team. It is our belief that this information is the most accurate, thorough, and reliable information currently available to the public. Our decision to focus on third party information rather than conduct our own studies is rooted in the very spirit of our mission. It would be wasteful for an organization of our size to conduct our own studies when reliable information is readily available. Instead, we focus our resources on promoting effective altruism and encouraging donations to the world's most effective charities.
Please see the references at the bottom of this page for a full list of the sources that we have relied on for our decision.
(1)Disease and Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa. 2nd edition. Chapter 12 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. Mark A. Miller and John T. Sentz. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2284/
(2) Dr. Christen Lengeler of the Swiss Tropical Institute. http://www.againstmalaria.com/downloads/Cochrane_review_on_ITNs__update_2004_.pdf
(3) GiveWell, http://www.givewell.org/international/top-charities/AMF
(4) Malaria Eradication https://www.againstmalaria.com/Faq_malaria.aspx
(5) Atlas of Giving http://www.atlasofgiving.com/atlas/9564728G/9564728G_12_14.pdf
(6) Giving Statistics http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=42#.VwerA3olgZw
(7) Why Malaria? https://www.againstmalaria.com/WhyMalaria.aspx
(8) LLIN Market and Data Analysis http://deliver.jsi.com/dlvr_content/resources/allpubs/guidelines/LLINMarkData.pdf
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