11:30 A.M. EDT
MODERATOR: Good morning, and thank you for joining us. Today is World Malaria Day. With us, we have Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator for the President’s Malaria Initiative; Dikembe Mutombo, NBA legend and chairman of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation from the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Elizabeth Gore, the executive director of Global Partnerships, United Nations Foundation. So they’ll be briefing on the successes of the President’s Malaria Initiative, malaria’s national security implications, and championing in the fight against malaria. So with that, we’ll go ahead and start with Rear Admiral Ziemer.
RADM ZIEMER: Well, good morning, everybody. It’s great to be in New York City on the occasion of World Malaria Day 2011 for me to represent the President’s Malaria Initiative and to affirm the United States Government’s commitment to the fight against malaria. As we meet in New York City today, there are events happening all over the globe today commemorating and advocating and reaffirming an international commitment to this scourge that we all call malaria.
And it isn’t just today. In the month of April, there have been a series of events at universities hosted by governments. CDC Atlanta is having an event today. My deputy is up at Yale University. And here we are in New York City, hosted by the U.S. mission, and I get the treat of working with the UN Foundation, who has been a fantastic partner in the fight against malaria. So it’s great for us to be here in New York. But we need to keep in mind that there’s a lot going on in this fight against malaria throughout the world today.
Malaria Awareness Day is an opportunity for the global development community and the global health community to not only intensify their efforts, but to reaffirm their commitment to provide effective, safe malaria interventions, both on the prevention side and on the treatment side. And we’re all very familiar with those interventions. I call it my PPP program, prevention-prevention-prevention, unlike public-private partnership, which is important. But it’s bed nets, indoor residual spraying, and the administration of intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women. So there’s a focus on pregnant women in the prevention side. And then, when malaria is diagnosed, we -- along with our partners -- provide the most effective anti-malarial drugs, the ACTs.
So as we commemorate the fourth World Malaria Day today, it marks a critical point in history. In April of 2000, the Abuja targets were set by African national leaders. And the goals and the targets that they set have -- should have matured by now.
Additionally, we are celebrating the transitioning through the universal bed net coverage goals that were set by the UN Secretariat and Secretary General. And we’re really delighted to see that 80 to 90 percent of those who need nets in Africa have them on their way. And we look forward to total universal coverage as the money and as the governments are able to do that.
If you read the World Health Organization’s annual report and if you read the Roll Back Malaria assessment surveys and, today, if you read the U.S. Government’s fourth annual PMI report, you’ll note significant progress that’s been achieved by the global community. And I am just really grateful that the U.S. Government is involved to be leading the PMI.
And since 2006, we have been a major partner with host governments. And as we talk about partnership, I think what we have to emphasize is that the most important partner is the host government themselves. And as we have scaled up in 15 of the most highly endemic countries in Sub-Sahara Africa, the PMI has reached out and touched over 100 million at-risk people. That’s a fairly significant milestone.
Our work is part of and is a major component of President Obama’s Global Health Initiative, where he is looking at a more integrated whole-of-government approach to doing public health development more effectively. And malaria is one of the major deliverables, along with maternal and child health, with nutrition, neglected tropical diseases, HIV, and family planning.
Underneath the President’s Malaria Initiative, which is, again, part of the President’s Global Health Initiative, we are seeing a drop in all-cause child mortality, between 28 and 34 percent in seven countries. This is documented by two country surveys now. And we’re really delighted to see that kind of data, which is accurate, which is effective. And it shows positive trends in the right direction. And within the next six months to a year, we should have similar data coming in from the other eight PMI countries.
As the burden of malaria falls --
MODERATOR: Excuse me, if you could turn the microphone -- I’m sorry to interrupt -- if you could turn the microphone toward you. We’re getting some fallout every time you turn your head, unfortunately. Thank you so much. We appreciate that.
RADM ZIEMER: Okay, is this better? Okay. As the burden of malaria falls, we as partners need to work collectively with the host countries to look at ways to improve case management, laboratory, and diagnosis and the use of RDTs in order to do -- improve fever management and also look at ways to build capacity at the national level, so that as malaria incidence goes down, and if there’s a spike, that we’re able to respond more effectively to an epidemic surge.
At the same time, of course we need to look at new research, new science, and investment in that to look at ways of preserving the effective interventions that we have and looking for new interventions, so that as we get towards our goal of removing malaria as a burden, a health burden in Africa, we have new technology and new science to achieve that.
So today, as we gather to celebrate Malaria Awareness Day 2011, we have a lot to celebrate. The trends are all going in the right direction. However, there’s a big but. We need to be sobered by the reality of the job ahead of us. Even today, a child passes away, dies from malaria every 45 seconds. And WHO’s data, most current data, says that 780 people -- 80,000 people will die of malaria in Africa this year.
So looking forward, we’ve got to stay focused on the Global Malaria Action Plan, the countries’ National Malaria Control Plans. We’ve got to look at sustained funding. Even in this economic-challenged period, we have to look at ways that we can not only increase, but sustain the funding, come together as partners in a more effective way, look for new ways to improve access to these effective interventions to those who need them the most, in the most remote parts in Sub-Sahara Africa, and look for new tools.
So our goal today is to celebrate, reaffirm where we’re going, but then look forward to the day that isn’t too far in the distant future that a mother in Africa will no longer have to fear for the life of her child because of malaria.
MS. GORE: My name is Elizabeth Gore. And on behalf of the United Nations Foundation, I want to thank all of you for joining us, both in Washington and New York. Today is a special day. And I come from a different and unique perspective of partnership and the everyday hero and the everyday champion across the street. I am proud to say at 6:00 p.m. today, the UN will be opening an exhibit that honors the strange bedfellows who have come together to fight this disease. And I have one to my right and one to my left, which is very special.
So Dikembe Mutombo and Admiral Tim Ziemer are perfect examples of people that have stepped up over the years. Five years ago, the Nothing But Nets campaign took flight. And it’s really interesting on the eve of that anniversary to think back on who has stepped forward to achieve these goals that Admiral Ziemer talked about of ending malaria deaths by 2015. And I can tell you that it is Boy Scouts, it is businessmen, it is bishops, faith leaders of all walks of life. And as the Admiral said, all these initiatives that are moving forward are country-led, and that is very important.
And our partners in each of these countries, the Ministries of Health, the political will that is being put forward is the most important. But I daresay what steps right behind that are the heroes that most of you don’t see every day. Nate Stafford is a Boy Scout that walked 100 miles to raise awareness for malaria. He is 13 years old. Katherine Commale, when she was five, had raised $20,000 for “Nothing But Nets,” and now she has raised $200,000. So these are the champions that we don’t see walking the halls of the UN every day that I am very proud to thank today on World Malaria Day.
Additionally, we’re nominating new champions for malaria and asking everyone to go to “Nothing But Nets” and tell us their stories. From organizations like Malaria No More, PSI, Roll Back Malaria, and so on, all of these NGOs have been fighting the good fight. But the folks behind and in front of them are these everyday champions.
I’m really proud that the NBA is here with us today. They were a founding partner and are still a lead partner of Nothing But Nets. Thirty-five million dollars has been raised, $10 at a time. It’s nothing compared to $1.2 billion that our administration has put forward, but I do think it’s a testament that millions of people care about this issue who maybe even haven’t stepped foot out of their hometown, but they want to give back. They want to take charge. They want to move forward.
So on behalf of the UN Foundation and Nothing But Nets, I’m here today to highlight them, to thank them, and to encourage more people. I have a baby due in August, and I think this is going to be the next malaria champion. But I hope by the time she is five, she actually doesn’t have a lot to do, because we’ll have met those Millennium Development Goals.
So thank you for hosting us today and I’ll turn it over to my friend, Dikembe.
MR. MUTOMBO: Thank you, Elizabeth. I’m pleased to be part of this foreign press day here with Tim and Elizabeth to celebrate malaria – World Malaria Day. As we all know, today is a big day around the world. We are celebrating Malaria Day. In the same token, we understand that there’s still many million women and children and senior who continue to die in Africa. But our goal is set to fight this deadly disease that can be preventable easily just with $10, by giving a mosquito net to every household.
And we have a chance to do it. And we are planning to do it before 2015. And that will require our human forces and a little money from our pocket to fight this prevalent disease. The NBA and the WNBA have joined forces with the UN Foundation and the U.S. Government and other partners to try to find a way (inaudible) we can help. Because as they say, when there’s a problem affecting one part of the society, it should be a responsibility of every human being living on this planet.
This is really a world concern problem we cannot let that keep going. And I’m happy that the NBA and WNBA and all of these partners have joined forces to continue to raise money for the UN Foundation and Malaria No More.
MODERATOR: Great. We will take some questions now. It looks like we have a question in Washington.
QUESTION: Hello, good morning.
MS. GORE: Good morning.
MR. MUTOMBO: Good morning.
QUESTION: Adam Ouologuem, I’m from Mali, West Africa. I work for the African Sun Times. I am the Washington Bureau Chief. Is there a vaccine against malaria yet? And I heard that you need at least $5 billion to eradicate malaria from the continent of Africa. How come it is so difficult to get $5 billion together? And how come HIV/AIDS has more funding than malaria, which is the most killing diseases in Africa? You just said it, that every 45 seconds a child dies of malaria. Is there a vaccine yet?
RADM ZIEMER: Unfortunately, there is not a vaccine yet. The good news is there is a significant amount of funding that is being directed to multiple research organizations to develop a vaccine that would be effective as a prevention intervention. I am told that that’s somewhere off between five and ten years. And so, as advocates against this disease, we must continue to ask the question that you just did, but more importantly, continue this fight with proven effective interventions that we have today that, in fact, are saving many, many lives.
So as we look to the future, we’re committed to research, innovation. As soon as that new vaccine is available, I don’t think $5 billion is going to hold it back. I think the world community will respond appropriately. But until then, we have to continue to do what we know works, and that’s to use these effective interventions and continue to save lives.
MR. MUTOMBO: Thank you, my sister, for asking this question. As you know, in Africa we see almost three kinds of malaria. You have the malaria one and malaria two and malaria three. So when we’re talking about vaccine here, we have to be careful, because we don’t know which vaccine we want to come out first. We want to come out with a vaccine that will attack the malaria one that is not really a deadly one or that will attack the one involved on level three, that hits your brain and it gives you almost more than 8 hours before you die?
So that’s a big problem. But there’s been already a primary study and primary results have come out from different universities, almost close to finding the vaccine. But they’re having a hard time to determine which level of malaria they want to go first. So I think we’re still far away from the vaccine. All we need right now to prevent people from falling as a victim of malaria, and also educate people and try to find a way to create more clinical (inaudible) with more tested for blood work can be done quickly before we know exactly who have malaria and who have fever.
MODERATOR: We have another question in Washington.
QUESTION: My name is Kanya D’Almeida from the Inter Press Service, and I have two questions that are kind of related. One is on the resistance that some of the mosquitoes have been developing and the adaptability to the pyrethroid, which is on the nets. And since it’s a Nothing But Nets campaign, I’m wondering if you can address that, because there’s an increasing bulk of research about that. So what are the plans on that front?
And secondly, in terms of manufacturing the nets, are there plans to put more resources into manufacturing the nets within places that are mostly needed, like in parts of Africa, simultaneously create jobs and also reduce costs of shipping them? And I understand that huge bureaucratic processing is involved in bringing nets from abroad. So can the focus be shifted to producing them within the countries? Thank you.
MS. GORE: Thank you for your question. The mosquito is a very resilient little critter, unfortunately. We’re not only seeing resistance to the long-lasting insectice-treated nets, but also to ACTs, the Artemisinin Combination Therapy, that we use for treatment.
Different parts of the world, as Dikembe said, have different strains of mosquito, different strains of malaria. Where actually we’re most frightened is in some of the Asian countries, actually, where bed nets are being less effective treatments, less effective.
But back to the nets, the whole, I think, movement towards eliminating malaria and some of the strides we have made is because of research and development. I think this is one area that we work in at the UN where the corporate community has really been sitting at the table with us. There are four bed net manufacturers that we work with hand-in-glove to always try and stay in front of these resistant strains.
This is not new. We are updating this technology every few years. Right now, the nets last three to five years. The pyrethrin that’s in the nets is non-toxic to humans, thankfully fatal to mosquitoes. We are not seeing actually that much resistance yet though. We feel good about these nets, and the four manufacturers are continuing though to do that R&D, and we will support them in that.
To your question on manufacturing, there is a very successful plant right now in Tanzania. A to Z is the name of it. It’s utilizing the technology from Sumitomo Chemical that was put forward. It is a very successful plant and we hope to see more of those in the future. But this was our first one to -- that the whole malaria community really supported. And you’re right; it is creating jobs, it is creating a strong economy, and it does lower the shipping, the import issues that we have, and so on.
I don’t know if you want to touch on any of these as well.
RADM ZIEMER: Elizabeth has pretty much covered it. Resistance is a huge issue and I’m glad you brought it up. It’s being tracked at every level -- WHO, by the universities, by the partners, and by the countries.
And I know the U.S. Government is focusing much of our effort now to building the capacity within each country to do surveillance monitoring so that we can try to understand what the situation is and then take appropriate action.
There are 12 indoor -- insecticides used for indoor residual spraying. One of them is the pyrethroids. And so there are other alternates to use that would help keep the mosquito resistance at bay or at least push it back some.
So it’s very important that we understand the range and the scope of the resistance, and then take appropriate action. The pyrethroid is the only insecticide used for bed nets, and so it’s something that the scientists are looking at very carefully.
Until we know that the -- again, the range and the scale of the problem, we are just really grateful for insecticide-treated, long-lasting nets. The transfer of technology to A to Zed in Tanzania is an excellent example of where we need to go in terms of building capacity and transferring world-class technology where it benefits -- where it’s needed and it benefits the constituency the most.
The A to Zed product is produced at WHO standards and it is competing with all other WHO-approved nets. So I think the example that Elizabeth gave is excellent. We just hope that there are more examples of that forthcoming in the near future.
MODERATOR: I think you have more Washington questions.
QUESTION: Good day. Thank you for being there. I’m Charlene Porter with the State Department’s International News Service. I’ll direct this to whomever may care to respond. Would you please just for the record (inaudible) hear from you today address the whole issue of how this disease widespread through a population can really affect national development, economic prosperity, and community livelihood and well-being overall? Thank you.
MS. GORE: Sure. Thank you. I’ll start and I think everyone will have a comment on this. I think when malaria really started getting a lot of your attention in the press was when we started putting an economic value or devaluation of economies around it. So if you look back two or three years before we started making strides, there was about a $12 billion loss of economy in the continent of Africa specifically. When a person in the family, even if they’re not passing away but they just get ill, they do not work, they do not go to school, there is not productivity.
From cerebral malaria, as Dikembe said, which is our worst strain, where we lose people within 24 hours, all the way to grown men who grow ill and are not able to work, this is a huge economic loss. Things cannot move forward. And I talk about -- we work in education. We work with promoting girls’ rights and so on. But if someone is sick, they cannot achieve or take advantage of all these other services we’re trying to put forward for them. So this is a huge issue. I think Jeff Sachs, who is an economist, has really stepped forward and said we’ve got to tackle this if we’re going to move forward as a continent.
So, Dikembe, do you want to comment on that as well?
RADM ZIEMER: I’ll make a comment too.
MR. MUTOMBO: That’s a good point you’ve raised. One thing I always tell people
as I travel about, that we cannot talk about the development of the country if we cannot discuss the health stature of its people, for if these people are paying in that particular country or that particular continent, there’s no way we can see the continent continue to develop. As you well know, the continent of Africa have lost already million, million people from HIV/AIDS. Now we continue to lose again million from malaria. So we are losing a lot of engineering, doctors, nurses, great politicians, great leaders to our community, and even our future generations, especially our young people who are coming today who can take over the leadership of their country, because of this preventable disease. I think there’s a way we can prevent this disease, and that’s why we are here in New York today celebrating this campaign, because we knew that there has been a great effort already made.
Myself, I’m a victim of malaria. Several years ago, as I was still playing in the NBA, I went to Africa for a few days to visit my parents, and I came back and I passed out after the game because of malaria. And I was lucky to be treating in Boston – in Springfield, Massachusetts, where I was for the care, and been saved from this preventable disease. Can you imagine if something had happened to me, if there was no cure for malaria where I was in Massachusetts by that time? And what the world was going to lose is another leader. So there’s a way we always can prevent (inaudible). We have to work very hard with all of our partner, with the U.S. Government, which is providing most of the funding, and the UN Foundation, to fight this preventable disease.
RADM ZIEMER: I frankly think that’s the most important question of the day. When you tie in malaria to development, to community development, the link is – the linkage is direct. If you – 1-point, or $12 billion, I don’t know what 12 billion means, as we throw around billions of dollars this day. But I can tell you this: In Malawi, according to Deb McFarland, who is a health economist from Emory, 30 percent of a mother’s income goes to buying anti-malarial drugs. That’s 30 percent of her discretionary income. That’s economic impact. When one of her children gets sick, it takes her out of the market, the workplace, or school for two to three days per child per incident, and most moms have three to five kids. That’s economic impact.
When you take on malaria, which represents in some cases 30 to 40 percent of the caseload in a hospital, and you consider unburdening that hospital by eliminating malaria, it frees up resources, very critical resources that a hospital needs in order to address other health issues, chronic or infectious. So the investment in malaria and saying (inaudible) prevented or eventually eliminated has direct inputs across the full spectrum. And when you take on malaria, you take on Millennium Development Goal four, five, and six. That’s infectious disease, that’s maternal health, that’s child survival. Elizabeth has already mentioned it keeps kids in school, so it helps education. But more importantly, based on what the health economists are saying, it directly relieves poverty, and that’s what development is all about.
Let me give you one more example. Ashanti Gold, a business in Western Ghana, invested $1.5 million to do malaria prevention in the district where many of their employees work. They saw prevalence go down 70 percent over two years. That’s pretty significant. But here is the most important figure: lost work days went from 6,910 to 304. Now, that’s return on investment, that’s business, and that’s exactly why we need to get malaria eliminated in Africa, because it has a direct link to poverty elimination and business development.
MODERATOR: Go ahead, Washington.
QUESTION: It’s me again, Adam with the Africa Sun Times, the lady from Mali. Mutombo, you have malaria – had malaria, the three type of malaria, even malaria in India. Is there a different type of medicine for those different types of malaria? And do you have any success story? I hear that some good news is coming from Lusaka in Zambia. What is your intake of that? And if there are any partnership with you guys and malaria – Roll Back Malaria initiative?
MR. MUTOMBO: Yes. I think our friend, Elizabeth, who’s sitting on my left here, can testify about it. In the Congo especially, where (inaudible) build a $30 million hospital in capital city, in Kinshasa. The United Nations Foundation, they provide their hospital with a thousand, thousand mosquito nets, which we have distribute to all of our employees to protect them from missing workdays where their kids get sick. And we’ve been able even to distribute more to the community because we serve the community of almost 3 million people living in that zone where the hospital is located. That kind of example showed that what the UN Foundation and its partner are doing to fight these preventable disease and that they are taking lives away from so many people in the continent of Africa.
My treatment – I think I was lucky with the treatment that I sought here in the U.S. compared to what we’ve seen in Africa. I think for a fact that there’s a good laboratory here in America that can diagnose the diseases much faster and can prevent more death. In Africa, and that’s another way we need to tackle threat next. After we distribute all the mosquito nets and we will work with all of our community leaders to find a way how can we establish small lab in a different corner of the country to prevent this disease. It’s good for us to distribute nets and nets, but it will come to the end to find a way which will be the next stage to see what will happen to those who are falling victim to malaria, what we do with them. And I think there’s a stage of that at the UN and the U.S. Government and the World Africa Organization are working on to combat this disease.
MS. GORE: And I’ll just answer your question on Roll Back Malaria. They are – I wouldn’t even call them our strongest partner; they’re our strongest convener – Roll Back Malaria, who’s led by Dr. Awa Coll-Seck. I think one of the reasons that malaria has made great strides very quickly the last five years is because there is an organized plan for elimination. At the UN and the UN Foundation, we work on many, many issue areas from energy to women and girls to measles, and I think that what is unique about the malaria space is that there is a business plan – and I’m using the word business – to eliminate malaria that includes all sectors: corporate, NGO, government, the faith sector, which plays a huge part of this, and especially on last-mile delivery, and so on and so forth. And the convening of that is through Roll Back Malaria. And so we are very proud to work with them, and appreciate all of Awa’s leadership in this effort. And additionally, Special Envoy Ray Chambers, who is the UN special envoy for malaria, has partnered up with RBM and really helped build that roadmap to ensure we’re all on the same page.
RADM ZIEMER: I think it’s important, while you hear a lot about the work that’s going on in Sub-Sahara Africa, that we appreciate the fact that the Global Malaria Action Plan does include the entire globe. And your question talked about two different kinds of malaria. When I was in Asia, I had vivax malaria, which is different than the falciparum malaria that you had. But the U.S. Government is engaged in Latin America, touching eight countries along the Amazon River region. And then in Asia, we’re also involved in a regional program along the Mekong River, touching five countries.
So I think it’s important to understand that the Global Malaria Action Plan is very inclusive, looking at both primary parasites and looking at how best to proceed forward toward the reduction, controlling, and then pre-elimination of malaria. The good news is that our colleagues in Latin America and Asia are doing quite well, moving forward, and we’re able to translate and transfer a lot of the lessons learned in technology from Asia and Latin America into the bank to see if there’s any lessons learned. Particularly in surveillance and resistance and monitoring, we’re learning a lot from our colleagues in Latin America and Asia that we’re looking at transporting and transferring to Africa. So think global when we think about Malaria Awareness Day. It isn’t just Sub-Sahara Africa.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) to assert as part of my questions regarding the medicine. There are three different type of malaria in Africa. I’m from Mali, so I’ve experienced the one from Mali, even the one from the DRC, and (inaudible) and Central Africa. So is there three different type of medicine, or all of those medicine works for those different type of malaria?
MS. GORE: There is multiple types of treatments, not just for the strains that Dikenbe mentioned in Sub-Saharan Africa, but globally as Admiral Ziemer were saying. I will stress, though, that the RMS and combination therapy is the drug of choice – for lack of a better term – that we find is eliminating the transmission and where the old chloroquine-based medicines would subdue it and then it would come back. There’s also new treatment for children under five that’s very specific for them, and then pregnant women. But there are – to your question – different types of treatment for different types of both malaria, age groups, and demographics.
Sorry, sir, go right ahead.
QUESTION: Herman Houngbo from LC2 TV, Benin, West Africa. According to your campaign, at least five years campaign against malaria on the – in Africa, what is the real face of the disease today in Africa?
And my second question to Mr. Mutombo is, as a basketball star, how is it possible for you to fight against malaria, especially on the continent in general and your country in particular?
MS. GORE: That’s a hard question – what’s the face of malaria? I see it as a positive face. I think that there are children who now have bed nets who are smiling and going to school. That’s what I think of. I also think of children here in the United States who are fighting this disease, and the two of them are not too much different but sharing the same dream of eliminating this disease.
We do a lot of work with refugees, and right now, maybe the sadder side of this is that there are 70,000 refugees from Cote d'Ivoire who have been forced down to Liberia and had treatment, had bed nets, had what they needed, and now they’ve been displaced from their homes due to conflict and they’re back to fighting a disease at rates of almost 70 percent, unfortunately. So there are different faces to this story. There are positive strides, but there’s also need. So I guess I would give you both of those faces.
QUESTION: What has been done exactly?
MS. GORE: Well, in Cote d'Ivoire, we unfortunately turned our sights temporarily to Liberia. We’re trying to cover these refugees before the rainy season. So there is an appeal out right now on nothingbutnets.net as well as with our other partners to get the funding that’s necessary to cover them through the UN Refugee Agency.
Also, I just mentioned in Cote d'Ivoire there is a – there is enough treatments and enough bed nets there to be utilized effectively in the country, and we’re trying to keep them safe. And so Ray Chambers right now is very focused on those not falling into the wrong hands or being lost. And so there’s a dual focus here and the story that we are very, very, very conscious of right now.
(Inaudible) question to you.
MR. MUTOMBO: Yes. On my side, I will say that (inaudible) the NBA we have conduct hundreds and hundreds of basketball clinics all over Africa in the different township, mostly in the poor area of most of the country that we have visit, starting from Senegal all the way to South Africa. Every time we go to those country, we’re trying to not just teach the game of basketball, but we are trying to get close to our youth and trying to find a way how can we educate them, especially against all these preventable disease. One of them is malaria and the other are topics that we always talk is HIV/AIDS. We know that our future of our continent belong to their hands, so we’re always trying to do anything necessary to educate them and to educate the community.
Now we started working with our partner with the UN Foundation, where every time we go to that country as we get in Africa three times a year to distribute mosquito net in a community that are greatest hit. We did in the Congo, we did that in Senegal, (inaudible) distribute more than 20,000 mosquito net with our players, including from WNBA and the NBA, where we work house after house to send the mosquito net by ourselves to show the communities that we are really engaged in this fight. We know that our players and our partners are not just putting the money to fight this deadly disease, but they want to be part of it from putting the – from buying the net and from distributing and from putting (inaudible) houses. It was amazing. It was a great experience for our players who participated. That’s something that they never told us they would want to do, and they always think about how can I give the money and let the UN Foundation go through, but working side by side by USAID, UN Foundation people, UNICEF, on the ground and doing that with the community activists it showed really our great progress.
And I think that this is just the beginning. As I said early on, that our goal is to reach zero-zero death by 2015, and we are working on it and we have a long way to go to have four more years. So we are asking people to just give us a chance, and I think that we will get some result.
RADM ZIEMER: Let me just be brief. I think the question about the face of malaria today, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, we have a lot to celebrate for. But if you look at the WHO annual malaria report, it’s very sobering, because when you look at Sub-Saharan Africa and you look at DRC and you look at Nigeria, two of the largest, most populated countries, and the endemic rate, it begs a lot of concern. We can celebrate the amount of money coming in from our partners in the Global Fund. Ray Chambers has worked very hard as far as trying to meet their national net requirements, but if you look at the rest of what’s required for malaria prevention and control and treatment, those two countries beg the question. As a result, the U.S. Government, depending on how much money we get from the President’s budget in Congress, has decided to expand into DRC and Nigeria to start working in those two most populated endemic countries in Africa.
MODERATOR: Thank you. And I think that’s all we have time for. Do you want to leave us with any remarks?
MR. MUTOMBO: I will just say that for the UN Foundation and Ray Chamber, who is a special envoy for malaria by the secretary general, I think we’re going to celebrate very soon with this fight that we want to take on malaria (inaudible). I think that (inaudible) funding that been approved by the World Bank, the distribution of the mosquito net, because people have to understand it’s not easy to distribute mosquito net. It’s easy to buy and to manufacture, but when you get to those country and some of the countries where the country is dividing by the river, it’s difficult and it require helicopter, boats, bike, human resources to reach all those villages to get the mosquito net to the house of all those people. And a country like the Congo is one of the most difficult place, and I want to thank Ray Chamber for all the work of the UN and the U.S. Government for getting this thing going. Hopefully, we will see a huge reduction of malaria to come in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thank you.
RADM ZIEMER: A closing statement, I think I just want to express my appreciation and charge to the media, which is part of the reporting process, it’s so important right now to accurately report the burden and what’s required. And so I just am grateful for the role of the media. When I hear from my friends and colleagues and family, it’s usually something that’s come from the UN Foundation and the celebrities that have decided to engage. And while they know that I’m working with the U.S. Government in this major program called the PMI, it’s really the advocacy and the commitment that’s been embraced by the UN Foundation and your partners to help us keep the awareness up where it needs to be in these very difficult and challenging times.
So I consider the U.S. Government a partner, but only one partner in this family of folks that are focused on trying to get rid of this scourge we call malaria.
MS. GORE: All right. Thank you. I hope to see you guys at 6:00 p.m. across the street with the secretary general.
DC MODERATOR: And a special thanks from Washington, too. Two of our journalists had to leave early because they wanted to file this story in time, so thank you very much from Washington.
# # #