Hoping to leverage the popularity of social networking, an international group of scientists has launched a site that would bring together the health community at one place with the objective of fighting malaria.
The website titled www.MalariaEngage.org would offer individuals a meaningful way to enlist directly in the anti-malaria battle by contributing 10 dollars or more to an initial choice of seven highly varied projects involving selected scientists in developing countries.
The site features a discussion area where supporters can interact with researchers and each other, obtain news and photos of both funded and proposed projects, a running tally of money raised, and stories from the front lines in the war against the scourge of malaria.
The team behind MalariaEngage.org includes 25-year-old Tom Hadfield, a self-described "part-time student and full-time entrepreneur" who came to national attention in his native Britain when Soccernet, a website he developed as a high school student in his bedroom, was sold at age 17 to ESPN for 40 million dollars.
"It's shocking that thousands of people are dying every day from a preventable disease. When I came back from Africa last summer, a lot of people asked me what they can do to help," said Hadfield.
"By encouraging individual participation and involvement, we will create international communities of common interest.
"This is the essence of social networking - MalariaEngage.org connects people who want to help directly with researchers working in Africa on malaria prevention, treatment and capacity building projects.
"Everyone can help and I urge them to discover, learn, join, contribute, get results, share experiences and invite others to participate," he added.
Hadfield notes MalariaEngage.org will fit seamlessly into other social networking sites such as Facebook, whose users can add malaria research projects as a "cause" on their profile, join groups of project supporters, and communicate with others dedicated to helping eradicate malaria.
"Malaria is an ongoing global health catastrophe that must be addressed by empowering researchers in the developing world to find solutions to their countries' own problems through creative, properly capitalized research programs," said Abdallah S. Daar at Canada's McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health at University Health Network and University of Toronto (MRC), the project's lead partner
"Tapping the talent and motivation of developing country scientists is critical if we're going to win this fight," he added.