Very few people can say with near certainty: I saved lives. Far fewer can say that they contributed to saving 6.8 million lives from malaria. Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer – who is stepping down after stewarding the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) for more than 10 years – can.
The summer of 2006 will be remembered as an important moment in the fight against malaria. In May, Rick Reilly wrote his historic column in Sports Illustrated entitled, “Nothing But Nets,” which launched our campaign at the United Nations Foundation. That is also when Rear Admiral Ziemer was appointed as the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator – quite the one-two punch against this deadly, but preventable, disease.
He has led PMI over the course of two U.S. Presidents, three Secretaries-General, eight Millennium Development Goals, and 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Throughout this time, he has provided steady, driven, and effective leadership, aptly earning the name, “The Malaria Fighter,” in the New York Times.
I saw his leadership in action at the Global Fund Replenishment in Montreal last year, an important step to complement the strong bipartisan U.S. commitment to malaria that he helped to build.
He has been a great spokesperson for the importance of strong partnerships. In the coming years, it will be ever more important for PMI, the Global Fund, and our partner agencies in the United Nations to work together to build on the tremendous progress that we’ve collectively helped ignite.
Rear Admiral Ziemer’s persistence in the face of both progress and challenges has elevated malaria to a global issue which unites partners from health workers to politicians to parishioners. He and the rest of the malaria community should be proud of the collective success achieved since the turn of the millennium.
Like our Nothing But Nets champion NBA star Stephen Curry says, “Success is not an accident.” We are grateful to Rear Admiral Ziemer for his leadership as we continue to work toward the successful end to this disease, once and for all.