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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Admiral Tim Ziemer
Admiral Tim Ziemer
Coordinator, President's Malaria Initiative (PMI)
April 25, 2007

Admiral Tim Ziemer
Thank you for joining me today. It is a pleasure to participate in this forum. I am honored to lead the President’s Malaria Initiative because we are saving lives. The targeted goal of PMI is to cut malaria deaths by 50 percent in 15 countries in Africa by reaching 85 percent of the most vulnerable groups – principally pregnant women, children under 5 years of age, and persons living with HIV/AIDS – with lifesaving services, supplies, and medicines. I am here to respond to your questions.

Ted, from Lake Forest writes:
Is Malaria have an effect on South Americans to this day? If so what measures are being taken to combat this disease?

Admiral Tim Ziemer
Malaria does still have an effect on Latin America and South America today - and the U.S. Government leads several efforts to control malaria in South America. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and others work in malaria-endemic areas, like the Amazon River basin, as well as the Mekong River region which also has malaria problems to prevent and treat malaria. The U.S. government also collaborates with key international organizations such as, the Pan American Health Organization, Roll Back Malaria, the World Health Organizations, UNICEF, and the World Bank. Prevention and treatment measures vary from region to region; nevertheless, the methods are generally similar to the PMI, focusing on prevention of mosquito bites and prompts treatment of malaria with effective anti-malarial drugs.

Michael, from Powell, Tn writes:
How can I avoid the risk of malaria?

Admiral Tim Ziemer
Malaria was once a great threat in the U.S. but was eliminated in the 1950s. However, if you travel to a foreign country where malaria is endemic then you could be at risk of contracting it. When you travel, always check with your doctor to see if you need any vaccines to legally and safely enter your chosen country and to get antimalarial medications, if you are traveling to a malaria endemic country. Detailed recommendations regarding prevention of malaria among travelers can be found at

Chris, from Auburn Hills writes:
Is it true that mosquitoes are primarily responsible for the spread of the disease?

Admiral Tim Ziemer
Mosquitoes are the only means of malaria transmission. If someone has malaria it is because they were bitten by an anopheles mosquito carrying the malaria parasite. So, mosquitoes are not primarily responsible for the spread of malaria, they are solely responsible.

Kay, from Ft. Sill, OK writes:
Just curious, how did you get involved with this initiative? Is your military background relative to your current post?

Admiral Tim Ziemer
My parents were missionaries in Southeast Asia, which is where I grew up. As a child I realized that malaria and other tropical diseases hurt and sometimes killed children. I experienced this first-hand when my family and I all caught malaria and become conscious that this disease could cost people not only their health, but also the money to buy medication, the sleepless nights spent taking care of a sick child, and the days from work taken to nurse the child back to health or worse. My background makes me particularly empathetic towards the people that the PMI strives to help and passionate about helping them. From the military I learned how to be a good leader and an equally good listener. I realized that my primary duty while in the Service was to protect Americans, now I have the honor of protecting and in some cases saving those vulnerable to malaria. After I retired from the Navy and before I became the PMI Coordinator I was able to spend five years working for World Relief, a humanitarian non-governmental organization that sought to improve maternal and child health in Africa. I am honored that my background brought me to the PMI.

Jane, from Georgetown, Texas writes:
What is malaria awareness day? What events are taking place to spread the word?

Admiral Tim Ziemer
Malaria Awareness Day was named by President Bush to raise awareness about malaria and to mirror Africa Malaria Day, also celebrated on April 25th, which commemorates the Africa Summit on Malaria in 2000, where 44 African leaders pledged to halve the burden of malaria in Africa. I am pleased to say that there are too many advocacy events to list here! They are taking place worldwide. If you look on the calendar of the Roll Back Malaria website you will find a myriad of events taking place in Africa. However, if you are looking for events in the United States then search on the Internet, I know of several taking place in several major metropolitan areas and nationwide.

Jordan, from Loveland, Colorado writes:
What are the most common symptoms and types of treatment available?

Admiral Tim Ziemer
The most common symptoms of malaria are a high fever and chills, although, sweating, headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and convulsions can also occur. If untreated, malaria can quickly progress to coma and death. The treatment varies from country to country, but all the PMI countries support artemisinin-based combination therapies or ACTs which are the most effective drugs available.

Sergei, from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania writes:
Admiral Ziemer,I appreciate your service to the United States in this important matter. How is the current Bush Administration is planning to fight this deadly epidemic? Can you please list several important steps the administration is planning to take in order to fund andor extend a hand to nations like Africa whenre malaria is rampant. As a concerned citizen, I have not heard from the President much about this problem being discussed or mentioned in his recent speeches. What is his main solution for this problem? Can you reasure the American public that President Bush is doing something about it and how we, as Americans, can help in battling this desease.

Admiral Tim Ziemer
The President and the knowledgeable doctors and public health specialists working for the PMI do everything they can to ensure that all actions and all the funds we receive are directly contributing to fighting malaria in Africa. The PMI uses four proven and effective prevention and treatment methods: providing insecticide treated mosquito nets; indoor spraying of homes with insecticides; lifesaving antimalarial drugs, and treatment to prevent malaria in pregnant women. These four measures are focused towards the populations most vulnerable to malaria, pregnant women and children younger than five. The malaria rates in Zanzibar (an island in Tanzania), for example, prove that these methods are working; since the PMI began activities in Tanzania, approximately a year ago, Zanzibar has seen an 87 percent decline in malaria cases. It is through scientific facts like that one that I can assure Americans that we are effectively fighting malaria. However, more can be done, such as contributing to one of the many organizations that purchase insecticide-treated mosquito nets for vulnerable Africans.

Admiral Tim Ziemer
First, thank you for your interest and participation; I sincerely enjoyed answering your questions. I encourage you to learn more about malaria, the President’s Malaria Initiative, and other infectious diseases that affect the developing world – and how to help. The President’s Malaria Initiative is working with the public and private sector as well as our political leadership to coordinate malaria control efforts, in the hopes that Africa can be relieved of this burden. If you have any further questions please contact me at