by Danielle Gillerin
This September, the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign, along with members of USAID, Malaria No More, and other key partners in the fight against malaria, gathered in Washington D.C. to congratulate and welcome Dr. Ken Staley as the new U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator.
In this position, Dr. Staley will lead the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), a program created in 2005 by President George W. Bush to aid in the fight against malaria in 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since its creation, PMI has expanded to serve 27 countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, and continues to support the fight towards elimination worldwide.
We’ve made enormous progress in the fight to end malaria – since 2000, 6.8 million lives have been saved. However, that progress is at risk now, as some countries are experiencing a stagnation or increase in malaria cases.
Even still, Dr. Staley is undeterred, eager, and committed to ending this disease once and for all. In fact, here are 4 reasons why he says he has “the best job in Washington.”
- We’ve come a long way. Staley and Ramsey Day, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Africa Bureau at USAID, both spoke about how the goal in the fight against malaria has shifted over time. When PMI first began in 2005, the organization’s main goal was to reduce malaria-driven mortality. In the thirteen years since, PMI has made continuous progress towards this goal by supporting the distribution of long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying and other preventative measures. Because of these actions, millions of lives have been saved worldwide.
- We now have our sights on elimination. As Dr. Staley noted, when PMI was created in 2005, eradication was an almost unimaginable goal, and no one was certain whether it could be achieved. Today, however, more countries than ever are approaching elimination – Paraguay was certified malaria-free in June of this year. Other countries have made strides as well, as is seen in Uganda which has halved the number of malaria-related deaths since PMI began working in the country.
- We’ve hit a plateau, but we’re rebounding. The World Health Organization’s 2017 World Malaria Report was the first one in decades to show a slight increase in the number of malaria cases worldwide. Dr. Staley addressed this but also highlighted the ways the public health and malaria advocacy sectors are working to keep the number of malaria cases on the decline. Supporting malaria prevention and treatment methods continues to be a bipartisan issue, and new vaccines, treatments, and insecticides are providing countries and organizations around the world with more ways to fight the disease.
- Civil society is a crucial factor in the fight to defeat malaria. Drawing parallels with the eradication of polio in the United States, Dr. Staley noted that advocacy and support from the public is crucial to preventing and eliminating diseases. The value of everyday people advocating for and raising awareness about malaria cannot be understated. The continued effectiveness of programs like PMI rely on individuals contacting their Members of Congress, engaging with their communities on social media, and continuing to support the organizations working to protect millions of people around the world from this preventable disease.
Dr. Staley’s remarks show how far we’ve come in the fight against malaria, and that with the support of advocacy organizations, governments, private sector partners, and everyday people we can continue on this path toward a malaria free world.
Nothing But Nets is proud to play a role in supporting the work of the President’s Malaria Initiative, and of our hundreds of champions who meet regularly with their Members of Congress to advocate for this crucial work. Click here to find out how you can become a champion today!