On Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, more than 120 policymakers and malaria advocates attended the World Malaria Day briefing luncheon sponsored by PATH, the United Nations Foundation, Global Health Technologies Coalition, Malaria No More, World Vision, Friends of the Global Fight, and ASTMH. A panel of distinguished speakers celebrated the impact of US investment in malaria control and made passionate arguments against giving up now. Senator John Boozman, Senator Chris Coons, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Admiral Tim Ziemer of the President’s Malaria Initiative, and Dr. Scott Filler of the Global Fund also made remarks, and the overwhelming sentiment was one of gratitude toward the malaria community for their commitment and dedication.
“Here, this room, is the perfect place to celebrate World Malaria Day,” said Admiral Ziemer about the Kennedy Caucus Room, the site of so many other historic moments in US Senate history. Ziemer traced the support of the fight against malaria from the past few US presidents, noting that we would never have come so far without strong bipartisan support.
The story of national success told by Dr. Elizabeth Chizema-Kawesha of Zambia’s Ministry of Health underscored Ziemer’s points. She remembers when malaria was the top cause of outpatient visits in Zambia; patients often had to share hospital beds. “Today, I am proud,” she said, because Zambia has achieved three-fourths national coverage of bednets and indoor residual spraying. She thanked partners like MACEPA, PMI, and the Global Fund for their contributions to strategic planning and effective partnership throughout the years. As Zambia continues to create malaria-free zones, “For us, elimination is now a reality,” she said.
The private sector and clinical researchers joined the chorus. Dr. Malick Diara of Exxon Mobil spoke about how malaria control protects company workers. Dr. Sarah Volkman, a US-based malaria researcher at Harvard, explained how research has created jobs and innovative advancements applicable to other infectious diseases.
Perhaps Congressman Meeks summed it up best when he said, “Winning is not winning half the battle. Winning is winning the whole battle. We can’t rest on our success until no one dies of malaria.”