Last week I joined UNA-USA members and staff from more than 60 chapters across the country to raise awareness about the United Nations and the critical role it plays in advancing American national security and foreign policy goals during UNA-USA’s Annual Meeting in Washington DC. The Annual Meeting agenda focused on how we can continue to strengthen support for the work of the UN at the grassroots level.
The week’s meetings were particularly exciting, because it was the first Annual Meeting since UNA-USA officially joined the United Nations Foundation family. A number of new faces were on hand, including former Senator Timothy Wirth, President of UN Foundation, and Kathy Calvin, CEO of UN Foundation.
Conversations emphasizing “focus” and “change” dominated the Annual Meeting. Many of the speakers drove home the need to focus on the work of the UN and how we can better advocate for a strong US role in promoting global cooperation. Our support for the UN is imperative to peace. As Ambassador Rice so eloquently put it, “Now more than ever, Americans’ security and wellbeing are inextricably linked to those of people everywhere. Now more than ever, we need common responses to global problems. And that is why the U.S. is so much better off—so much stronger, so much safer and more secure—in a world with the United Nations than we would be in a world without it.” In her keynote address at the conference, Ambassador Rice also highlighted the immense change going on in the world, seen most clearly in the Middle East. She encouraged everyone to “break out of old habits and find new answers to 21st-century challenges.”
The partnership between UNA-USA and UN Foundation seems well-positioned to find new ways to leverage the strengths of each organization, creating a powerful synergy and focus of missions. UNA’s grassroots outreach, combined with UNF’s grasstops mobilizing and campaigning, creates a real opportunity for progress. While it’s true that change never comes without growing pains, UNA members and leaders expressed excitement about gaining access to strong UNF campaigns like GirlUp and Nothing But Nets, and the elevated co-branding opportunities that exist between the two organizations.
In addition to meeting the UNF key players, those in attendance heard from UNA-USA’s new Executive Director, Patrick Madden. Madden set forth a strong vision for the future of UNA’s work and partnerships. He also challenged us to grow our local membership, engage young professionals in our programming, and expand our advocacy efforts.
One of the highlights of the meeting was the chance to take up Madden’s call to action to advocate for the UN, and foreign affairs as a whole. On Tuesday, all of us UNA members went to the Hill to meet with our respective congressional members. My Massachusetts counterpart, Alma Morrison, and I deftly navigated all 3 House buildings and 2 of the 3 Senate buildings to meet with staffers from the offices of Reps. McGovern, Capuano, and Lynch, and Sens. Brown and Kerry. We shared our concerns and wishes regarding US engagement on global issues and made sure our elected officials knew these issues are important to us and our fellow UNA-GB members, their constituents. It was clear that with drastic budget cuts looming, now more than ever our elected officials needed to hear about our values and priorities directly from us.
I came away from the 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting inspired to take action more concretely and to continue to mobilize the greater Boston community on the issues that matter to the UN. As the oft-repeated mantra goes, “If not us, who? If not now, when?” It is imperative for us to act now. I look forward to more fully engaging with UNA-USA, UNF, and the UN, as we work together towards stronger and more successful action and messaging! I sincerely hope you join us!
-Kaitlin Hasseler, UNA-GB Program Manager
If you have not been aware, now you know that April 25th is World Malaria Day! It is a day to commemorate global efforts to control malaria, examining the progress that has been made toward malaria elimination and to renew efforts toward achieving the target of zero malaria deaths by 2015.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease widespread in tropical and subtropical regions including much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Americas. The disease causes symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases progressing to coma, and even death.
Malaria transmission can be reduced by preventing mosquito bites by distribution of inexpensive mosquito nets and insect repellents, or by mosquito-control measures such as spraying insecticides inside houses and draining standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
However, hundreds of thousands of people are still contracting malaria and many of these people are unable to access appropriate and timely, treatment.
All over sub-Saharan Africa, already struggling economies are being battered by the economic burden of the disease, which is estimated to cost Africa $12 billion a year. Malaria remains a leading cause of preventing children to attend schools and work absence putting tremendous pressure on household incomes. In addition, weak health systems are over-burdened by the relentless demand for care and medication.
Reducing the impact of malaria is key to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which are geared towards not only combating the disease itself, but the improvement of women’s and children’s rights to health, access to education and the reduction of extreme poverty.
Photo by Maggie Hallahan/Sumitomo Chemical
World Malaria Day gives us a chance to make a difference.
Help end malaria by 2015! There are many ways you can help to reduce deaths caused by malaria. Donate mosquito nets by visiting NothingButNets.net or find out other ways to get involved at worldmalariaday.org.
Also, check out couple of events hosted by Harvard about Malaria:
Rethinking Malaria: From the Gene to the Globe
A Seminar in Recognition of World Malaria Day 2011
- When: Tuesday, April 26, 12:00 – 2:00pm
- Where: Harvard School of Public Health, Francois Xavier Bagnoud Building, Room 301
- Talks by
- Sangeeta Bhatia, PhD,Professor of Health Sciences & Technology and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
- Caroline Buckee, PhD,Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
- Günther Fink, PhD, Assistant Professor of International Health Economics, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health
- Sponsored by the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Department of Epidemiology and Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health
- Lunch will be served – Space is limited – Open to the Harvard community
A Harvard Student Benefit Concert in Commemoration of World Malaria Day
- When: Wednesday, May 4, 8:00 – 10:30pm
- Where: Oberon, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge
- Sponsored by the Harvard Malaria Initiative
- For tickets visit www.cluboberon.com
Help us work today to achieve a malaria-free world tomorrow!