Media CenterCRS Named to "Million Lives Club" For Innovative Malaria Programming

Photo by Sam Phelps/CRS

You are here


Brittany Wichtendahl
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(757) 748-5003


BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, Dec. 10, 2020 – In recognition of its innovative and wide-reaching malaria work in Nigeria and The Gambia, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been named to the Million Lives Club – a group that spotlights individuals and organizations that are successfully improving the lives of people around the world who live on less than $5 a day.

The recognition highlights CRS’ “Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN) Campaigns” in Nigeria and The Gambia, which, as of this year, have led to the distribution of more than 62 million treated bed nets. At the core of the campaigns are two mobile technologies called the Cash and Asset Transfer (CAT), built on the RedRose ONEsystem, and Dimagi’s CommCare, which provide real-time data that helps CRS and partner teams track bed nets and make more informed decisions about distribution sites.

“Being named to The Million Lives Club is a great recognition of the innovative work our staff is doing each and every day to protect families from malaria,” said Steve Hellen, CRS’ Senior Director for Field Systems. “The technology has had a tremendous impact on the precision and scale of the campaigns and is critical in helping us get bed nets to precisely the right families while allowing us to drastically grow our reach. This is the type of innovation that will transform the way we work in the future.”

While big gains have been made in the fight against malaria, the disease still accounts for hundreds of thousands of deaths annually. In the last year alone, there were an estimated 229 million cases worldwide, including some 400,000 deaths. Nigeria accounts for more malaria deaths than any other country.

“Malaria can be deadly, but it’s also completely preventable and treatable,” said Suzanne VanHulle, CRS’ global malaria advisor. “We have the solutions at our fingertips, many of which are cost effective. Technology like CAT gives us even more tools in our arsenal toward eliminating malaria in these high burden countries.”

The "Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets Campaigns" in Nigeria and The Gambia were made possible through a partnership with The Global Fund.

About The Million Lives Club:

The Million Lives Club recognizes the importance of a customer-centric focus in global development and believes that collectively highlighting social innovators that have reached transformative numbers of clients will act as a powerful platform to encourage the uptake and scaling of innovations and for good, everywhere.

The Million Lives Club seeks to nurture innovation ecosystems by recognizing innovators and social entrepreneurs whose innovations have scaled to serve 1 million customers or are rapidly approaching this milestone. The Million Lives Club is an initiative inspired by members of the International Development Innovation Alliance (IDIA) and supported by a growing partnership of leading development organizations. For more information, visit


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Online Tools:
CRS Online Press Room:

Public Relations Strategist

Brittany Wichtendahl &
Nikki Gamer
December 9, 2020

Brittany Wichtendahl is a public relations strategist for Catholic Relief Services, out of Baltimore. Drafting press releases for secular and Catholic news media, Brittany also crafts pitches to help publicize CRS's work. She writes op-eds for placement in national print publications, and monitors news outlets for stories related to CRS and CRS programming.

Brittany is a graduate of...More