Malaria Gets UN Envoy

Ray Chambers, the US Secretary-General’s newly appointed Special Envoy for Malaria, addressed the press. The UN press release explained that Mr. Chambers hoped that, “over the next five years, a true private-public partnership led by the “Roll Back Malaria Partnership” could raise some $8 billion to $10 billion.” Mr. Chambers whom the UN characterized as a “full-time and hands-on philanthropist” talked about the need to involve multiple partners and employ multiple tools in tackling the problem of malaria.

Although Chambers co-founded Wesray Capital Corp, one of the most successful leveraged-buyout firms of the 1980s, he has spend nearly two decades doing philanthropic work. Mr Chambers described his new duties thus: “What the secretary-general has charged me with is working out what we can do in the next two years, the next three years, the next five years to get mortality from malaria as close to zero as possible,”

The Malaria Foundation included Ray Chambers among its 2007 Honorees,and outlined his achievements as follows: founding co-chairman of Malaria No More, for jump-starting and launching this new organization in December 2006 to help raise the profile of malaria, support the goals of the President’s Malaria Initiative, and raise $10 donations from the public for the purchase and effective distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets. An example of Mr. Chambers fundraising skills was evident at the Millennium Promise and Malaria No More Joint Benefit event which raised $2.7 million to fight extreme poverty and disease in Africa last June.

Laura Bush at the 2006 White House Malaria Summit also praised the new envoy. “Ray Chambers, who is the Chairman of Malaria No More. Ray is an example to all of us of someone who because of fortune in his life, a fortunate life, he has reached out around the world to help other people. And thank you so much, Ray, for being so involved in this.” Reuters quoted World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan as saying that Chambers “has the passion, experience and commitment the world needs right now to secure the political will and the funds needed to profoundly reduce this threat.”

Mr Chambers was realistic at the UN Press Conference when he explained that, “A long-term cure, or eradication, would come from a vaccine, but that goal was years away. It is very difficult to prepare a full-scale, comprehensive vaccine against the malaria parasite. In the short term, attention has to be paid to science, as in the past, both the mosquito and the parasite have developed resistance to certain insecticides and medications.”

Mr. Chambers appears to be starting of with ‘enthusiasm’ as people are saying, but also with a good dose of realism, whether it be about the near term potentials for eradication or limitations of environmental measures to control malaria. We hope this enthusiasm, realism and commitment will spread to policy makers in all donor and endemic countries faster than malaria can spread.

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