As a Malaria Fellow through the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign and the Religios Action Center, I am responsible for creating awareness about Nothing But Nets and malaria on American University’s campus. As part of my efforts to do this, I set up several meetings on Capitol Hill to talk with my members of Congress about the need for strong U.S. leadership in the fight against malaria.
The U.S. government funds two primary programs in order to combat malaria: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the President’s Malaria Initiative. The U.S. government has already provided nearly 300 million bed nets through these two programs. It is crucial for Congress to continue fully funding these initiatives to halt the spread of malaria and ultimately reduce the number of cases of the disease. Such a continuation would enable more people in sub-Saharan Africa to receive bed nets and other crucial malaria reduction interventions.
My peers and I met with the offices of Representative Cathy McMorris, Senator Patty Murray, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. The legislative assistants we met with were impressed that we, as college students, were advocating for malaria prevention. At the office of Sen. Whitehouse, legislative assistants were encouraged by our efforts in malaria prevention and explained that the issue of global health, and specifically malaria prevention, was important to Sen. Whitehouse.
By holding these meetings, I have been able to inform my elected representatives about the issues that are important to me. When Congress is more aware of what is important to young people, we are better able to affect our political system. Contrary to what people might think, meeting with a member of Congress is not intimidating. Holding meetings enabled me to make a tangible impact in the fight against malaria. By taking the initiative and reaching out to Congress, we can all make our voices heard and ensure our government is doing everything it can to combat this deadly disease.