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By: Wendy Dimas,  Maegan Cross,  Leander Vergara

United to Beat Malaria Champions Return to Washington, D.C. for Annual Leadership Summit

April 4, 2023
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From Sunday, March 26 – Tuesday, March 28, 91 United to Beat Malaria (Beat Malaria) Champions from 35 U.S. states and across the globe united in Washington, D.C. for the first time since 2020 to engage in three days of skills-building, community mobilization, and advocacy. We were joined by a variety of our private sector partners: SC Johnson, Vestergaard, Cotapaxi, Fieldroutes, and more—each there to underscore the importance of public-private partnerships in the fight against malaria. 

To kick things off on Sunday, Champions participated in several advocacy workshops led by Beat Malaria team members. First, Candice Woods and Jonathan Kidwell conducted an interactive training on grassroots fundraising. Emile Dawisha, Amardeep Shergill, and Holly Pappano then gave our Champions the 4-1-1 on building out their advocacy platforms using social media and mass media. Finally, the grassroots advocacy team, Wendy Dimas, Maegan Cross, and Leander Vergara led a workshop on developing their personal story and organizing their community for change. These trainings not only set the tone for the rest of Summit, but they also equipped Champions with the tools and skills to advocate effectively and mobilize their communities in support of life-saving global malaria programs. 

Champions were also introduced to United to Beat Malaria’s brand new interactive StoryMap, a website with interactive geo-maps detailing champions, partnerships, on-the-ground projects, and involvement with the cause. Some Champions also had the opportunity to engage with Thomas Locke, the host of Johns Hopkin’s Malaria Minute podcast to share their involvement with the campaign. 

Monday opened with a sober yet inspiring view from Dr. David Walton, the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, who shared just how far our investments in programs like PMI can go toward reducing the burden of malaria. Liberia, for example, more than halved its burden of disease by building out its community health worker network in just six years. Still, a child dies nearly every minute from this disease; so much more needs to be done. 

The following series of panels highlighted that our progress in fighting malaria is also affected by rising insecticide and drug resistance, as well as sensitivities to climate change that affect the length of the rainy season which in turn affects the timing of when mass bed-net distribution or indoor residual spraying campaigns take place. This makes our advocacy for key programs much more important. Our champions also heard from guest speakers at UNHCR, PAHO, Friends of the Global Fight, and the UNA-USA Youth Observer, who all shared fact-based and personal stories on the importance of this work. 

Monday’s panels were closed out by Peter Yeo’s candid Inside Washington Panel, where he was joined by Les Munson from BGR Group and Ritu Sharma from CARE to discuss the uphill battle we face to increase funding for global health programs broadly this year. 

Tuesday’s Advocacy Day started off with an award ceremony where top Champions were honored with awards voted on by their peers:

  • Dr. Nashwan Al Othman won “Most Active on Social Media,”
  • Dr. Monika Sawhney won “Most Welcoming Champion,”
  • Mr. Chuks Mazi won “Most Likely to Hold Elected Office,”
  • Ms. Michelle Bakin won “Best First-Time Champion,”
  • Ms. Sifa Ndusha won “Best Public Speaker.”

Champions then travelled to Capitol Hill to share their message with members of Congress. Together, they reached 141 congressional offices to advocate for our core malaria programs: the President’s Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  

Thank you to our Champions and partners for making our first in person Summit since 2020 such a resounding success. We look forward to advocating with you all in the year to come. Our next advocacy activation will be a week of action surrounding World Malaria Day. Sign up here for our World Malaria Day webinar on April 24 to kick off the week. 

View and download photos from the 2023 Leadership Summit here!

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