Atlanta, GA, March 13, 2008 --(PR.com
)-- The Malaria Foundation International (MFI) is proud to join forces with the Niger Educational System Associates (NESA) to work towards fighting malaria in Niger Republic, West Africa; one of the poorest countries in the world, with a GDP of $781 per capita. Executive members of both organizations (see photo) met for the first time in Atlanta, GA USA to discuss and agree upon common goals.
According to NESA, which is led by a group of volunteer professionals from Niger Republic, in order to fight the malaria disease, it is critical to work towards achieving improved living conditions for the people of Niger. Education of the children was viewed as the single most important priority towards attaining long-term sustainable success in the fight against malaria. Additionally, ensuring the development of functional health clinics and the proper diagnosis and treatment of the disease was regarded as particularly important.
The Founder and President of NESA, Dr. Mamane Nassirou Garba Meidadji, knows the devastation of malaria first hand, and has firm convictions regarding what is important in his country. He has suffered repeated bouts of malaria, as have all his family members. Worse, in 2006, his 29-year old brother Zakari Garba Meidadji died of the disease. “My brother went to the hospital on Sunday and died by Thursday,” said Dr. Meidadji. “This disease affects us all: children, men and women. Without increased knowledge and the development of functioning clinics with trained medical staff and treatment, such needless death will continue day in and day out for years to come. NESA is taking a long-term approach to end such unnecessary death and suffering and improve the quality of life for people in Niger”.
Discussions initiated by NESA with the MFI centered on the importance of education, in general terms, and specifically about malaria. The vast majority of people in Niger are illiterate (71.3%) and NESA has made progress towards seeing this change.
In recent years, the Red Cross and the Global Fund for Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria have provided millions of bednets and funds designated for artemisinin combination therapies to the people of Niger. However, according to NESA members, the number of malaria cases has not been reduced and they personally do not view bednets as the top priority. As professed by Dr. Meidadji, “Niger is in Africa at the southern end of the Sahara Desert, where it is hot, very dusty, and using bednets is very uncomfortable. We need to be sure people can be diagnosed and treated effectively, and that a long-term plan including the future possibility of vaccination, if a vaccine is in fact ever successfully developed and implemented, is considered to help End Malaria in Niger.”
Members of NESA have pooled their resources to provide educational materials to teachers and children in Niger, and to pay teachers to hold summer sessions for the children. In Niger, many children do not own the basics: pencils and paper, let alone books. Staying in school through the summer in a nurtured environment is providing the stimulus needed for their advancement. Recent exam scores are in fact showing that students in the NESA programs are beginning to excel.
NESA also provides incentives, including book bags for the highest achieving students. NESA members collected over 800 ‘used’ conference bags from their professional colleagues in the United States and distributed these to the highest achieving students. “It is amazing how the students become empowered with such gestures,” said Dr. Meidadji. “Little by little, through the generosity and commitment of a dedicated group of NESA partners, teachers and government officials are starting to recognize that they can be the instruments of change for a whole generation,” added Mr. Aboubacar Amadou-Idé, Director of programs of the organization.
According to the MFI’s President Dr. Mary Galinski, “We are pleased to partner with NESA, listen to their priorities, and see where we can start to fill the gaps. It has been encouraging to see the teachers’ and students’ excitement and progress resulting from the little cash and pro bono assistance we have been able to provide to date.” The MFI stimulated NESA’s projects with several thousand dollars raised by one of its partners, Choi Kwang Do Martial Arts International, which joined forces with the MFI one year ago with the goal to stimulate awareness and education projects to fight malaria. Together they are reaching students of all ages around the world, promoting the End Malaria – Blue Ribbon Campaign (EM-BR) and developing a global Student Leaders Against Malaria (SLAM) network.
For more information please see the MFI website, www.malaria.org
Mary R. Galinski, PhD
Founder & President, MFI
Dr. Mamane Nassirou Garba Meidadji
Founder & President, NESA