Delegates started arriving at the Summit site on Saturday, February 20, 2016. The Summit started on Sunday, February 21, 2016 with the opening of registration formalities at 10:30 am. This was followed by a luncheon at 11:30 am. The welcome address was given Chris Helfrich, Director of Nothing But Nets who later introduced the Guest Speaker, Reverend Thon Chol who came into the United States of America from Southern Sudan as a child refuge and malaria survivor during the period of religious persecution in Sudan and prior to the independence of Southern Sudan. In addition to serving as a pastor in a Northern Virginia church, Reverend Thon Chol is also a Refugee Advocate and a frequent speaker on malaria being a malaria survivor himself when he was in the refugee camp in Kenya prior to coming to the United States of America. He gave a very moving speech about life in a politically unstable environment and in refugee camps including the rampant unsanitary conditions due to unwieldy overcrowding and infections including malaria. He was given a standing ovation at the end of his talk. At 1:00 pm, other speakers like Stella Kinawa now living in Miami but originally from Cameroon told us her story about how she had multiple malaria attacks while growing up in Cameroon and she almost died during one of the attacks when she was under the age of five years, Jeff Jirod of Southern California told us how his father died after contracting malaria while working as missionary in the Philippines and Beverly Ezeakoli originally from Trinidad but now living in Maryland shared the story about how she lost her infant son to malaria in Lagos, Nigeria, when she and her husband returned to Nigeria in the early 1980s after they completed their education here in the United States of America. We later heard the story of a group of three young High School students in Southern California who were collecting bottles from house to house in their neighborhood to raise money to buy bed nets to send to Africa to protect children against mosquitoes. It was quite heartwarming to learn that they were able to raise more than three thousand dollars that way. Paschal Dike, the President of Junior Chamber International Worldwide (JCI Worldwide) gave a very impressive speech about his organization made up of young people aged 18 to 40 years as an effective, voluntary, advocacy group of more than two hundred thousand young people with presence all over the world including Nigeria. It is pertinent to note that Paschal Dike himself is a Nigerian and he lives in Nigeria even though JCI Worldwide is a 100 year old institution and it was founded in the United States of America. He talked at length about their partnership with Nothing But Nets since 2008 and how JCI has been very effective in the distribution of bed nets to many remote parts of Africa because of their presence all over the world and the fact that their members are active young people who are not afraid to go anywhere for a good cause.
At 2:00 pm, the Summit then arranged the delegates into Breakout Session groups and delved into how to raise funds to save lives through a marketing crash course taught by the fundraising team of Nothing But Nets. This was followed at 3:15 pm by another Breakout Session of how to organize an effective community engagement which was taught by the Nothing But Nets grassroots team. Formal networking among the delegates started at 4:30 pm and the Keynote address was given at 5:00 pm by Abby Wambach, FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion and all time female scorer who gave a powerful speech about believing in oneself and one’s purpose in life. The first day of the Summit came to a close at 5:45 pm and an evening dinner was later hosted at the UN Foundation Headquarters at 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. It is quite pertinent to note that we walked the distance of three miles from our hotel to the dinner site which is a good exercise.
The second day of the Summit started with breakfast at 7:30 am on Monday, February 22, 2016, with a welcome address by Margaret McDonnell, Deputy Director of Nothing But Nets. This was followed at 8:40 am by a panel discussion on “Defeating Malaria in a Generation”. The panelists were Mariah Richardson of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lisa Goldman Van Nostrand of Sumitomo Chemical and Alan Court of the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Malaria. The panelists gave very insightful perspectives about the goals of the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate malaria by 2040 through active research into vector control, vaccination, blockage of transmission and development of stronger antimalarial medications since resistance is already a big issue in some countries. They also spoke about he development of medicated bed nets that will be safe for humans but effective against mosquitoes. At 9:45 am, the Summit switched into how to engage the media in making headlines and getting the word out to the public about the work on malaria and arouse public support for the cause while raising the necessary funds for ongoing research into prevention, treatment and ongoing surveillance towards eradication. At 11:00 am, a session was held about how to engage the US Congress and get the attention of the legislative branch of the US Government so they can support initiatives that promote work on malaria. At 12:00 noon, the Keynote address was given by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, US National Security Advisor, who announced President Obama’s President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), asking the Congress for an additional $200 million for fiscal year 2017 in addition to the money already approved for HIV, AIDS and Infectious Diseases. It should be noted that PMI was started by President George W. Bush in 2005 and the policy was continued and robustly funded by President Obama. She delved into the statistics regarding malaria and how it came from killing a child every 30 seconds in 2008 and now a child every 2 minutes. Lunch was served after the Keynote address and at 1:30 pm, a session for Capitol Hill prep was commenced to get the delegates ready for making their pitches to members of Congress about the need to fund the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). At 3:00 pm, elective Breakout sessions on in-depth dive into malaria, the UN, careers for social good and the global refugee crisis were put in place and delegates were assigned to different sessions depending on the choice they made at initial registration for the Summit. Afterwards, another panel session was constituted to address the role US Youth Observer to the UN, UN Foundation and refugee issues. The panelists were Donya Nasser for US Youth Observer (2016), Susan Myers, Senior Vice President, UN Foundation and Chris Bolan, Public Information Officer, UNHCR for refugee issues. The sessions were quite informative on the different subject areas. Finally, another Keynote address was given by Kelly T. Clements, Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, delving into the scope of Independently Displaced Persons (IDPs) involving the Middle East (Syria, Iraq), Southern Sudan, Central Africa, Nigeria (Boko Haram) and many other regions of the world and how the UN is addressing the various refugee problems and human trafficking.
The third day of the Summit started with breakfast at 7:30 am and a quick rehash of the Capitol Hill prep at 8:15 am. Buses left the hotel for the Capitol Hill at 9:15 am after a group photograph in the hotel due to rain otherwise the group photograph is usually taken at the Capitol. Delegates worked in pairs to meet with Congressional members (House of Representatives and Senate). I (being from Ohio) was paired with another delegate from Indiana (neighboring State) and we met with Representative Jackie Walorski (R-IN2), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Senator Daniel Coats (R-IN). We made our pitches about malaria and made a strong case about the need for Congress to approve the President’s budget for his PMI so that the work on malaria can continue. We talked about the good work Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing and their commitment to the eradication of malaria by 2040. We mentioned the strategic importance of Africa in the war against terrorism and the scourge of malaria on not only the people of Africa but US military during postings to strategic areas of Africa. We also talked about global business, US business interests, productivity and return on investment citing the relevant economic statistics that have been produced from the work of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on malaria. Our message was well received in the Capitol but we were warned to be cautiously optimistic because of multiple demands on the US economy and other competing needs. We took photographs at the various congressional offices, had lunch at the Senate Building, concluded our pitching work after lunch and returned back to our hotel at 4:30 pm. The Summit concluded at 4:30 pm and the delegates started departing to their various destinations quite energized to continue the fight against malaria with the tools they have acquired during the Summit.
Abraham Osinbowale, MD
Chairman, ANPA’s Advocacy Committee
cc: Nkem Chukwumerije, MD (ANPA President)
Johnson Adeyanju, MD (ANPA President-elect)
Charmaine Emelife, MD (ANPA Treasurer)
Mike Etomi, MD (ANPA’s Immediate Past President)
Tagbo Ekwonu, MD (Chairman, ANPA’s Publicity Committee)
Latisha Dutch (ANPA’ s Administrator)