14 February 2008 With two children dying each minute from malaria, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Ray Chambers of the United States as his Special Envoy to mobilize global support for action on the disease.
“Mr. Chambers will help the Secretary-General to raise the issue of malaria on the international political and development agendas including by doing all in his power to reduce child deaths from the disease,” a spokesperson for Mr. Ban said.
A philanthropist and humanitarian, Mr. Chambers is the Founding Chairman of the Points of Light Foundation and Co-Founder, with Colin Powell, of America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth.
Speaking to reporters in New York, Mr. Chambers recalled the dawning of his understanding about the tragedies caused by malaria through Jeffrey Sachs, the Secretary-General Special Adviser on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of antipoverty targets to be reached by the year 2015.
Mr. Chambers remembered the moment when Mr. Sachs showed him a photograph of some children he thought were sleeping. “I said, ‘Aren’t they cute?’ And he said, ‘You don’t understand; they are all in malaria comas.’ They subsequently died, and I’ve never been able to get that rid of that image.”
Since then, he studied the disease, which kills millions each year despite being preventable in what Mr. Chambers called “a genocide of apathy.”
He reviewed recent initiatives to galvanize action on the issue, including “Idol Gives Back,” a charity event by the “American Idol” televised talent competition, which raised $80 million for malaria and other causes. “We’re going to do that again this April,” said Mr. Chambers.
He said efforts would be made to raise $8 billion to $10 billion in the coming years to address malaria, he said. With that budget and concerted action, it would be possible to significantly cut mortality rates.
“That won’t eradicate malaria,” he said, adding that a longer-term plan to achieve a vaccine would take perhaps decades.
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