Drake Zimmerman

Normal Rotary Club, District 6490 started The Malaria Project on 1 July 1993 when he saw a new medicine that cures malaria, artemisinin. He soon visited Rotary Foundation’s Polio leaders, USAID in Washington and WHO’s Malaria unit in Geneva. At his booth at the RI Convention in Taipei he joined forces with Australian Malaria pioneers to form Rotarians Against Malaria or RAM. Projects in countries Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, West Africa, Zambia, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Haiti, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, among others, followed.

Breakthroughs: At the 1996 Rotary Convention in Calgary the group worked out a key breakthrough: putting nets in vaccination campaigns could accomplish the full coverage of treated nets needed to cut malaria dramatically. In 1997 he sponsored UNICEF’s review of “gray papers” on nets, leading UNICEF Chair Carole Bellamy to declare UNICEF would “put a net within reach of every child in Sub-Saharan Africa,” a call to action also adopted by  the World Health Organization in 1998. To fund the Malaria work WHO organized The Global Fund on Malaria, adding TB and HIV/AIDS, THE major funder of malaria work since.

Beyond “nets in vaccination campaigns” Rotarians put 2 nets/household in Zambia 2004, now the gold standard. RAM Australia achieved the best full country coverage and maintains village-by-village data in all of Papua New Guinea, led by the indefatigable Ron Seddon of the Port Moresby Club, supported by RAM/Australia, The Global Fund and many others. Rotarians proved that DATA is essential to effective malaria control.

Going to scale: In 2002 Drake partnered with The Measles Initiative to show HOW to add nets to vaccine (Measles) distribution in Lawra District, Ghana using a Rotary Matching Grant, achieving the highest coverage at the lowest cost, followed by covering 4 districts in Zambia in 2003 and the full country of Togo in 2004, achieving unprecedented success.

Partnering: Drake Cofounded AMP. Multicountry rollout of nets with vaccines spun into The Alliance for Malaria Prevention AMP in2008, responsible for coordinating much of the 250 million nets distributed annually. Along the way, in 2003 Drake helped then UK Rotary International British Isles and Ireland President Brian Stoyel found the UK-based REMIT, Rotarians Eliminating Malaria in Tanzania, partnering with Canadian Rotarians Against Malaria (CRAM!) to distribute over 200,000 nets to date.

Drake cofounded the Rotarian Action Group on Malaria now RAM-Global as Vice Chair/Liaison with AMP and other groups. AMP just celebrated the 2 Billionth net, November 2019.

Drake joined Seattle-Based Rotarian Malaria Partners RMP board mid-2019, after helping the Rotarian Action Group restage. Together RMP and RAM-Global plan to “take malaria Rotary-wide, from Grassroots to Grasstops” by expand membership and participation.

Malaria is down by 2/3 or more, saving millions of lives.

Drake’s 26 year commitment continues with a vision for MalariaPLUS – using the data systems for malaria control to provide social networks and infrastructure to systematically provide deworming, micronutrients, safe water/sanitation and education  for all. Drake says Rotarians’ legacy of help with Malaria control goes far beyond malaria.

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