|TB OR NOT TB. WHY NOT A SPECIAL ENVOY TO STOP MALARIA?
15 May 2007
Alas, Tuberculosis has just lost its Special Envoy. Now that Mr. Jorge Sampaio has suddenly dumped it for a more
farcical assignment as a Higher Representative of Civilization Alliance (!), it is not clear whether our creative
leadership can produce a suitable -- and equally distinguished -- replacement. What would the patients, doctors, and
nurses do without him? Would WHO in Geneva be able to survive without his diligent effort? How about those poor souls
in Cascais, Estoril and Faro who would need his steadying hand? Ah well. One case lost. Maybe another can be won. What
about a Special Representative for Malaria? That disease kills over a million people a year. Or, if that is too
overwhelming, an envoy to look into the Malaria net. Someone is bound to find it. To the uninitiated, the Net came to
the attention of decision takers and influence makers in Davos two years ago. One of the most creative promoters, Dr.
Jeffrey Sachs, reached the peak of the Swiss Alps resort where he effectively spun a simple attractive proposal about the
need to only get a $2.50 net to prevent the death of one million Africans from malaria. He challenged the assembled
leaders, including presidents Mbeke of South Africa and Obasonj of Nigeria, to meet in two years' time if only to
check on the state of the nets. Even the American-accented Irish U-2 singers Bono seemed overwhelmed, pressing
his dark glasses and possibly wondering why hadn't he been slipped that idea by his newly found friends? Sharon
Stone, no less, sprung into action. She grabbed the mike to contribute $10,000. Richard Gere, who apparently has his own
NGO, followed suit. Within half an hour, the President of Tanzania was the surprised recipient of one million dollars
worth of tents. How could he go home without them?
Here we are. Two years from Davos 2005 with nothing to show. Of course by next year no one will remember, particularly
if supermodel Claudia Schiffer shows up to lecture tired and retired business executives on the prospects of climate
change. But just in case the question arises, perhaps our farsighted new leadership -- with continuity minus or
plus some change -- may need a suitable envoy. Either to stop malaria or find those nets. Whichever comes first. It would also
provide a cushy job for some other distinguished former President, Prime Minister or at least a Foreign Minister. Ordinary
ambassadors need not apply.