Rotarian Drake Zimmerman, on right, helped found The Alliance for Malaria Prevention AMP to show how to incorporate treated mosquito nets into vaccination campaigns. Starting in 2002 with 14,600 nets funded by a Rotary Matching Grant, the effort grew to need its own organization, AMP. AMP has trained countries to distribute over 250 million nets every year.
Each year at the annual meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, AMP awards its Top Malaria Prize to a group that have made exceptional contributions to malaria control. Rotarian Malaria Partners’ Jim Moore, left and Rotarians Against Malaria -Global show off the 2020 award with Rotarian Zimmerman, right, member of both RMP and RAM-Global boards. Zimmerman cofounded RAM-Global and was thrilled Rotarians received the award for the unprecedented second time.
He explained, “Rotarians continue to pioneer interventions in malaria that prove extremely effective. Rotarian Malaria Partners trained and funded hundreds of Community Health Workers in Zambia and Uganda. They reduced rates of malaria to near zero. Nets can get rates down to 10-30%, but the question remained, What do we do now?” Rotarian Malaria Partners asked, “Could specially trained Community Health Workers work in communities to lower malaria rates to near zero, even in areas of higher transmission like Zambia?” RMP tried it, and it worked. “If we can get malaria near zero in Zambia, we have a strong shot at knocking malaria out period. This is a breakthrough we have been looking for.”
The other breakthrough? “RAM Australia work showed us zero malaria is possible.” Rotarians from Australia lowered cases in East Timor from 223,002 in 2006 to 9 cases in 2019, all imported. “That we know the specific and really low number of cases, and can determine that they were all imported, means that we are learning what systems to put into place. More importantly, the results show we can take malaria to zero.” Drake notes that the “we” is never just Rotarians, but an organized group of players.”
RAM Australia worked with WHO, the Ministry of Health and many others to set up systems to track malaria in Timor Leste. Surveillance is critical so we know when we get malaria to zero. Our next question: “Can we keep it there, at zero?” Malaria work is all about both innovations and getting the many players working together. Rotarians all over the world are figuring out award-winning strategies.