For some people, the new year begins with a clean slate – 2007 is over and 2008 is a year to do something different. For me, this new year begins with a reflection of 2007 that includes accomplishments achieved throughout the year.
Looking back, I started 2007 in Indonesia, supporting distribution of mosquito nets on Sumatra Island. I ended the year in Mali, where the largest single distribution of mosquito nets just took place. In between Indonesia and Mali, I visited a number of countries to work with Ministries of Health and their partners to plan and implement large-scale vaccination campaigns tied with other interventions, including distribution of mosquito nets for prevention of malaria.
As malaria advisor to the Canadian Red Cross, my focus is clearly on malaria. But since beginning this work in 2004, I have come to realize that although the mosquito nets are extremely important, they are only one part of a larger integrated package designed to improve overall child survival. This package, which was delivered in Mali, includes vaccinations against measles and polio, administration of vitamin A to strengthen children’s immune systems, and treatment for worms which hinders growth.
Mali is one of a number of countries that has implemented mass integrated health campaigns over the past years. I feel both proud and fortunate to have worked in a country with such a strongly committed Ministry of Health. Without the passionate work of the Ministry of Health and a group of partners who offered financial, technical and moral support, it would have been impossible to reach the campaign start date with everything in place.