Are you a Twitter fritterer? Or do you waste too much time on Facebook or MySpace?
A new social networking site might help quiet your nagging conscience. The new site suggests ways you can help to fight the deadly disease, malaria.
As reported today in the science journal Nature, MalariaEngage.org aims to help in the stuggle against malaria. Rather than throwing buckets of money at big name Western research institutes, the new website aims to give smaller locally-based African projects a bigger profile.
Relying on grass-roots support from people who are concerned about poverty and disease, the website hopes to fund in-country research that would otherwise be overlooked by the big funders such as the Gates Foundation or NIH.
The site provides profiles of projects that individuals (that’s you and me!) can evaluate and choose to support.
How wonderful that Africa is providing leadership, in developing a new concept. Here, science is coming full circle. For centuries, scientists relied on the largesse of individual benefactors for funding, until government systematized and formalized the funding process.
Through this innovative use of social networking, Africans are showing us that science should again look to individuals directly for support when necessary. In this case, however, the relatively small amounts requested, from $10 up, allow anyone to participate—it is the democratization of science funding.
Such a paradigm is especially important in a research field such as malaria, given that it primarily affects populations in poor developing countries. Big money is needed to solve such a pervasive and persistent disease, but there is much good science being done locally.
It is time African researchers are recognized and supported for their work. Kudos to malariaengage.org for taking this innovative approach. This is social networking with a truly socially-relevant purpose.