"Malaria No More" Gala Recognizes Frontline Fighters

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Namal Nawana



Recognizing Partners who Care          

When intentions are noble, unfavorable weather conditions are seldom a deterrent to a determined mindset. This was obviously the case when some 300 guests braved a cold and rainy night on November 13, joining the bee-line to lower Manhattan’s Skylight Modern for the Awards Dinner fundraiser with a singular goal in mind- the eradication of malaria, the disease that continues to haunt mankind by stealing the lives of our most vulnerable.

The organization that commands this response is “Malaria No More” (MNM), the global non-profit founded by Peter Chernin and Ray Chambers at the White House Summit on Malaria in 2006. Distinguished guests from the worlds of business, culture, media and philanthropy showed up to acknowledge MNM’s partners and honorees- global diagnostic device & service provider Alere and media giant Al Jazeera America.

The night began in true celebration style, totally appropriate for an event that raised an impressive $1.47 million. It was also befitting that the live-entertainment driving this soiree would feature musicians and dancers from the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Fela, based on the life of Nigerian singer/human rights activist Fela Kuti, enhancing the African-themed atmosphere.

Namal Nawana, CEO of Alere accepted the 2014 Corporate Citizen’s Award on behalf of his company.  Alere is MNM’s exclusive diagnostic partner and in his acceptance speech Mr. Nawana said: “Alere is committed to working with partners like Malaria No More to totally defeat malaria. Our part in this important initiative is the rapid diagnostic test, and it’s our goal to create access. So in this latest partnership, we’re really pleased to give two million of the rapid diagnostic tests to support Malaria No More. A million have already been delivered to Zambia; another 800,000 will go to Nigeria, and 200,000 to Chad.” 

Al Jazeera America was presented with the Media Leader Award for raising awareness about malaria through its outstanding journalism in the U.S. and around the world and its commitment to covering the planet’s most pressing global health issues. The company’s CEO Ehab Al Shihabi expressed how privileged it was to be honored by Malaria No More. “My colleagues at Al Jazeera have worked hard to make sure that malaria stays in the spotlight and that audiences remain informed about the fight against this treatable and preventable disease," Al Shihabi said. "We’re proud to be able to do our part and to be recognized, but we know it’s an ongoing battle and there is much work to be done.”

The name Malaria No More is akin to a declaration of the organization’s mission, maybe requiring an exclamation mark at the end for emphasis. Their goal is to completely end deaths caused by this disease that remains one of the top child killers worldwide-the fatality rate from malaria is still disturbingly high.

In his address CEO Martin Edlund dispelled the misconceptions that animals such as snakes, alligators and sharks are the most dangerous to humans. It turns out that the tiny mosquito is in fact the biggest killer of people on the planet due mainly to malaria, a disease that threatens nearly half of the global population.

“We’re making historic progress against this disease," Edlund noted. "Since the last benefit, we announced a milestone in the malaria fight - a 54 percent decline since 2000 in the rate of child deaths in Africa from malaria.”

The end of the formal program signaled the beginning of a full-fledged party. With the pulsating Afro-beat (Fela!) rhythm filling the air, guests spilled onto the dance floor encouraged by Chop and Quench- ethnically-clad dancers with awesomely gyrating hips. The atmosphere in the swanky, psychedelic-lit basement-like space beckoned total abandon.  Interludes of slow-jams by Nigerian guitarist/singer Bez would temper the musical storm. However the night’s final act belonged to Fela! - guests could not get enough.



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