Smith Recognized for Work to Fight Malaria
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) was recognized by the United Nations Foundation Tuesday for his longstanding leadership in the fight against malaria, including his work on leading the House Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
The foundation’s “Nothing But Nets Campaign” asked Smith to address its 2020 Nothing But Nets Leadership Summit on Malaria, held March 8-10 in Washington. Insecticide treated bed netting is considered to be a proven, cost-effective interventions. This year’s theme was “Stepping up the Fight.”
Peter Yeo, the Senior Vice President at the United Nations Foundation, praised Smith as a “champion” and “ally” in the fight against malaria.
“He has been an advocate on global health issues as cochair of the Malaria and Neglected Tropical Disease Caucus,” Yao said. “When you think about the work on the Foreign Affairs Committee, nothing happens without Congressman Chris Smith being involved in it.”
Yao presented Smith with an award that read: “United Nations Foundation 2020 Congressional Leadership Award, Congressman Chris Smith, for His Steadfast Leadership in the Fight to End Malaria.”
Smith thanked the Nothing But Nets volunteers and organizers.
‘We do need to ‘step up the fight’ against malaria, as the theme of this year’s conference states,” Smith said, noting that his own grandfather contracted malaria during World War I. “High morbidity and mortality rates are not necessary—malaria is both preventable and treatable.”
PICTURED: Smith receives his award with supporters of the “Nothing but Nets Campaign” at the March 10 event.
He discussed his 2018 legislation to provide a five-year, $30 billion extension of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) called the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018 (HR 6651). Under PEPFAR, the U.S. has invested more than $80 billion in bilateral HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis programs and the Global Fund to Fight Malaria, AIDS and Tuberculosis.
“PEPFAR has been a spectacularly successful program that has saved the lives of many, particularly in Africa and the rest of the developing world,” Smith said. “It’s a comprehensive, bipartisan effort started under President George W. Bush and continued for the last 15 years under both Republican and Democratic administrations. PEPFAR has helped improve the lives of those suffering from malaria, as well as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.”
Smith noted that in 2005, President Bush established the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). “PMI targeted several African malaria endemic countries to receive over a billion dollars to mitigate and someday eradicate this killer disease,” Smith said. “The positive consequences of that bold and compassionate initiative include over a million lives saved over the years.”
According to the 2019 President’s Malaria Initiative 13th Annual Report, since 2006, there has been a 20 percent decline in malaria case rates and a 51 percent decline in malaria death rates. Statistics from 2018 show 60 Million insecticide treated nets were made available to about 120 million people. The report notes, “Before PMI started, a child would die from malaria every 30 seconds. U.S. technical and financial commitments through PMI and contributions by the U.S. Government (USG) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, together with the efforts of national and global partners, have weakened malaria’s grip worldwide.”
“Today the latest figures show that in the war on malaria, every two minutes three of every four children who would have died 15 years ago now survive to live their childhoods and have a brighter future,” Smith said.
Smith held a 2010 hearing, entitled “The U.S. Contribution to the Fight Against Malaria,” at the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. C-SPAN coverage of the hearing can be viewed here.