Robert W. Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), was a featured speaker at the December 14 White House Summit on Malaria, which was hosted by the President and Laura Bush at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development and Malaria No More.
Malaria is an easily preventable disease. Yet, it currently kills 3,000 children daily and claims the lives of nearly one million people worldwide every year, ERD notes.
The White House Summit on Malaria assembled non-governmental organizations, faith-based service agencies, multilateral institutions, international experts, civic leaders from Africa, government dignitaries, corporations and foundations. The meeting's objective was to initiate a public-private effort to fight malaria as well as educate the American public and the wider international community about the need for a global partnership to control malaria.
The summit was part of the President's Malaria Initiative, a five-year program that began in 2005. The initiative, a collaboration of the private sector and U.S. government, aims to cut malaria-related deaths by 50 percent in 15 African countries.
More than 300 people attended the event, which included remarks by First Lady Laura Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Melinda Gates and Nigerian Minister of Health Eyitayo Lambo, among other notable speakers.
At the meeting, Radtke announced ERD's NetsforLife initiative, a partnership for malaria prevention in Africa that will deliver 1 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets along with critical training on proper use of the nets in 16 countries across sub-Saharan Africa during the next three years. NetsforLife is a consortium of funding and implementing partners that works through Anglican churches and ecumenical agencies in Africa to mobilize grassroots communities to prevent, recognize and treat malaria.
"NetsforLife is reducing malaria morbidity and mortality for people who live at the end of the road," said Radtke. "Through NetsforLife, we are distributing nets that last from three to five years and we are working with local partners, trained volunteers and technical staff to administer the proper training and education. Our monitoring and evaluation program measures the rates of malaria in each community."
Radtke also discussed the importance of working with local Anglican churches to access the most remote communities on the continent.
"Our Anglican partners are on the front lines in countries like Zambia where incidences of malaria have tripled in the past 30 years," said Radtke. "It is through the generous support of corporate and individual donors and the tireless work of churches on the ground that we are able to reach the last mile in Africa."