Malaria is both preventable and treatable, at astonishingly low cost. That’s why it’s a global tragedy to see hundreds of thousands of people dying from this disease every year.

Still, there’s good news here: The war against malaria is being fought successfully, with the help of billions of dollars from around the world, and malaria deaths are coming down.

Some of the money comes from individuals giving to places like the Against Malaria Foundation, which has raised some $129 million over the past 15 years, with substantially all of that money going to buy anti-malarial bed nets. But the overwhelming majority of the money is institutional, coming from places like the Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, and of course the governments of the most affected countries.

It’s very natural to want to take sole credit for great achievements. And charities like the Against Malaria Foundation are based on that idea: if you give them $5, they’ll buy a bed net, and lives can directly be saved thanks to your donation. But the truth, at the individual-donation level and even at the PMI level, is inevitably more complicated. These kind of projects involve immense amounts of international teamwork, and it’s invidious to try to single out individual contributions and then quantify their marginal effects.

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