November 4, 2016, 9:00 am
By Ambassador (ret.) Mary Ann Peters
Ambassador (ret.) Mary Ann Peters is the chief executive officer of The Carter Center.
Big institutional milestones are the result of small individual efforts.
As I write this, The Carter Center is closing in on the distribution of its 500 millionth dose of drugs to combat neglected tropical diseases. That’s half a billion doses of medication given to tens of millions of people suffering or at risk for river blindness, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis.
This achievement is possible because tens of thousands of regular folks in Central and South America and Africa have agreed to work with us, organizing clinics, inviting and reminding their neighbors, measuring people for proper dosing, handing out pills, and carrying out the myriad little tasks associated with these efforts.
We owe a huge thank-you to our pharmaceutical partners Abbott, BASF, Clarke, ESRI, GSK, Merck, Merck KGaA, Pfizer Inc, and Vestergaard for generously donating these drugs, larvicides, and other essential supplies that are changing lives and making history. They don’t have to do it, but they choose to do it. We also thank our organizational partners, such as Lions Clubs International, which rally their members to help organize and educate endemic communities to prevent these diseases.
A Nigerian girl prepares to take three drugs, protecting her against river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis. This fall, The Carter Center marks the distribution of its 500 millionth dose of medication to treat neglected tropical diseases around the world. (Photo: The Carter Center/ F. Richards)
By the same token, our peace-building programs could not operate without grassroots citizen support and engagement. While The Carter Center sends teams of monitors to observe elections, it’s thousands of local individuals who staff polling places to help their fellow citizens exercise their franchise. Similarly, our dynamic Syria conflict map is generated from hundreds of social media posts coming out of the conflict zone daily.
Whatever the enterprise, it takes the combined efforts of many individuals—most of whom are not paid—to make it work. Today I salute those individuals, from Mexico to Mozambique, from the Philippines to Paraguay.
We could not do any of what we do without you. Thanks a billion.