We have officially arrived in Mali, and it was a lovely trip. We started the day meeting with some personnel from Mali’s Ministry of Health. We have learned how massive and important this campaign really is. My wife Ginna and I feel truly blessed and humbled to be part of this initiative as this is the biggest and most important health campaign that this country has ever undertaken.
There are almost 12 million people in Mali, and about 2.8 million are children. From December 13-19 every mother will bring her children, from 0-59 months old, to the nearest clinic locations, many of which have been put in place for this campaign.
The campaign is led by Mali’s ministry of health, but it relies heavily on contributions from other organizations and foreign partners to make it successful. It consists of five different focus points:
We will be delivering over 2 million bed nets; 133,000 were provided by Nothing But Nets supporters. We will be able to hit 95% of the targeted areas. By the time we leave Mali, every child under 5 at risk of malaria will be covered by a bed net.
This is true progress and a massive accomplishment. This is the result of many people coming together to make the people of Mali safe from many health issues. As you know, we are here with the United Nations Foundation and the Nothing But Nets campaign. We are specialists in malaria prevention. It is estimated that 3000 children die daily in Africa because of malaria, but by distributing long lasting insecticide treated bed nets (LLINs), we can prevent up to 90% of children’s deaths from malaria.
Some of the other partners involved in this initiative include The American Red Cross, The Canadian Red Cross, Exxon-Mobil, USAID, and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), among others. In addition, Ruth Riley is a WNBA player representing her sport and of course joining along side us as well in this adventure are Dwayne DeRosario and his lovely wife Brandy. I think they are beginning to realize the importance and magnitude of this health campaign. We are all sort of stunned at what is happening right around us.
We had a briefing mid-morning geared towards educating us in-depth with all of the statistics and approaches which this campaign is facing. In the afternoon, we had the official launch of the campaign in a massive press conference at Bamako’s International convention center. President Bush is very committed to tackling the malaria problem, and has created the President’s Malaria initiative. At the head of PMI is United States Admiral Timothy Ziemer, who is here in Mali. He really is the President’s right hand man when it comes to health.
I had the opportunity to meet the Admiral at the White House and was very impressed with his enthusiasm and love for this cause. I saw him again at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where we were both speakers, and he had some wonderful words of encouragement for me.
Today again, as I spoke at the press conference, he expressed his gratitude for my passion and for being making it here. Dwayne got to meet the Admiral as well, and is as pumped up about tomorrow as I am. We are to visit some clinics and health centers tomorrow, so I think our eye-opening experience will resume then. I am looking forward to tomorrow. I will be documenting every step and will be sending pictures as well. See you then!