Column: CDC malaria battle aims for ‘historic public health milestone’

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on March 6, 2015

The Atlanta-based CDC Foundation has received the largest grant in its history — $29.9 million — from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The grant aims to help eliminate malaria on the island of Hispaniola by 2020 — through a consortium of several partners working in the region. Hispaniola includes the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It is the only remaining island in the Caribbean where malaria is endemic.

According to the CDC Foundation, the majority of Hispaniola’s malaria cases occur in Haiti, and there were more than 20,000 confirmed cases in 2013.

The goal is to create a malaria-free zone across the Caribbean, according to Larry Slutsker, director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria.

“This will be an historic public health milestone for the Western Hemisphere and will greatly reduce the risk of reintroduction of malaria to nearby countries where it’s already been eliminated,” Slutsker said.

The CDC Foundation, a private entity established to support and enhance programs of the CDC, will administer the grant that will go towards covering the costs of the Haiti Malaria Elimination Consortium.

That consortium includes the CDC, the CDC Foundation, the Haiti Ministry of Public Health and Population, the Dominican Republic Ministry of Public Health, the Pan American Health Organization, the Carter Center, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Pierce Nelson, a spokesman for the CDC Foundation, said that the effort will require additional fundraising — as much as $80 million to $90 million.

“It’s an opportunity to address a problem that’s been impacting the island of Hispaniola for many, many years,” Nelson said.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die.

According to the World Health Organization, malaria caused an estimated 584,000 deaths worldwide in 2013. However, malaria is preventable and treatable. Increased investments and coordinated global health efforts have resulted in a 47 percent decrease in malaria mortality rates since 2000.

The CDC Foundation has received two other jaw-dropping grants in its history that were nearly as significant as the malaria gift.

In 2008, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $25 million to strengthen the disease surveillance and response capabilities of the CDC.

And last year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated $25 million to the CDC Foundation to help fight Ebola.

Interestingly, the origins of the CDC actually began as the Office of Malaria Control in War Areas, an agency established in 1942 to limit the spread of malaria during World War II. The center was located in Atlanta rather than Washington, D.C. because the South was the part of the country with the most cases of malaria.

Global Cities

What would it take to make Atlanta a global city?

That was the question posed to the World Affairs Council of Atlanta’s 7th Annual Young Leaders Conference on Feb. 28 at the Commerce Club.

The conclusion after several hours of pondering the question is that there are multiple answers, and few of them are simple.

The morning started with statistics from David Balos, managing director of Georgia and Alabama markets for JP Morgan Securities LLC, who also is working with the Brookings Institution’s Global Cities Initiative.

Atlanta has a large foreign student population; it’s an international gateway with 3.3 million airline passengers in 2011; it exported $25.5 billion of products and services in 2012; and the metro area accounted for $337 billion of goods traded that year — ranking 7th among metro areas in the United States.

An innovation panel spoke of how a global city would welcome new ideas and entrepreneurs. A panel on quality of life spoke about the need for public transit if metro Atlanta really wanted to be taken seriously as a global city.

Claire Angelle, international affairs director for the City of Atlanta, described a global city as one that was open and welcoming to the world. That’s why Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has made it a priority to be open to immigrants and international visitors.

Chris Young, executive director of CIFAL Atlanta, said it was important for each city to find its narrative. “Atlanta is the home of civil and human rights,” Young said. “Be honest with yourself. Do what you do well, and live with that.”

Asked how one balances being a global city in a state that isn’t as welcoming to people from other countries, panelists said the hope was in building stronger relationships between the city and the state.

“Focus on what you can have an impact on,” Angelle said. “We are hoping that we can lead by example.”


The U.S. Fund for UNICEF will host its inaugural UNICEF’s Evening for Children First in Atlanta on March 20, when it will honor Rebecca and Sanjay Gupta.

The event is being held to raise critically needed funds for UNICEF’s life-saving work for children. The Guptas will be honored with the 2015 Global Philanthropist Award to recognize their continued contributions to help UNICEF put children first.

In 2006, Sanjay Gupta traveled with UNICEF to Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the CNN special Killing Fields: Africa’s Misery, the World’s Shame which highlighted UNICEF’s work in the field. Sanjay also traveled with UNICEF to Peru in 2008, where he visited children living with HIV/AIDS. Following this trip, he hosted The Survival Project: One Child at a Time, which was broadcasted on CNN and highlighted UNICEF programs in Iraq, Laos, Ethiopia and Peru.

Rebecca Gupta joined the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Southeast Regional Board in November 2012, and has been an active member since. She’s chaired several events which have raised more than $1.7 million for UNICEF’s lifesaving work. In 2013, Sanjay received a $50,000 award from the Hilton Foundation to be directed to a charity of his choice, he and Rebecca chose UNICEF.

The event will be co-chaired by Ginny Brewer, Cara Isdell Lee and Swati Patel. It will include a seated dinner designed by restaurateur and Chef Kevin Rathbun at the Summerour Studio in northwest Atlanta.

Girl Scouts

The 2015 Second Century Circle Breakfast on March 3 exceeded its goal by $150,000 — raising more than $775,000 for the Girl Scouts, according to Amy Dosik, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. Since the inception of the breakfast in 2012, it has brought in more than $1.5 million to the organization — supporting scholarships, financial assistance and leadership development for more than 43,000 Girl Scouts in the metro area.

The guest of honor was Kathy Waller, executive vice president and chief financial officer of The Coca-Cola Co., who had a sense of wonder at the accomplishments of the Girl Scouts who had been part of the program.

“Every day, Girl Scouting helps girls develop their full individual potential by providing girls with opportunities to explore a range of interests — from financial literacy to STEM to environmental stewardship to healthy living — and determine their passions,” Waller said after receiving her award. Waller received the “Changing the World” Award in recognition of her professional achievements and significant community service. The breakfast was held at the Piedmont Driving Club, and the event chair was Kelly Barrett of The Home Depot. The honorary chair was Arby’s CEO Paul Brown.

JA Business Hall of Fame

Junior Achievement of Georgia inducted three new laureates into its Business Hall of Fame on Feb. 28 — bringing the lifetime total of their honorees to 87.

Two of those laureates — Carol Tomé and Doug Hertz — co-chaired the dinner, which inducted Ken Bernhardt, chair and founder of the GSU Marketing Roundtable; Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve of Atlanta; and Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber (see photos, The Insider, page 6A).

“Our total for the evening was in excess of $650,000,” said Helene Lollis, president of Pathbuilders and also board chair JA of Georgia. “It was our most successful Hall of Fame to date. Particularly it is exciting that we exceeded past years in all three categories — sponsorships, silent auction and our ‘Inspire a Generation’ campaign.”

Bernhardt spoke directly to JA fellows in the room. “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well,” he said. “Ask for help. Carefully study those you admire and those you don’t. Honor your commitments. Understand the importance of relationships. Understand the importance of integrity.” Lockhart spoke of the value of financial literacy and how he was told at a formative point in his life that the eighth wonder of the world was “compound interest.”

Moddelmog reminded the audience of how Atlanta has one of the worst records of income mobility. “I know with the work that we do in this market, we can change that,” she said.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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