Congressmen Gregory Meeks (D-NY) has been announced as the new Co-Chairman of the Congressional Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Caucus. Meeks joins Co-Chairman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) for the 112th Congress.
Meeks has been a senior member of the Caucus since its inception in 2008.
"I am an eternal optimist, and a determined member of Congress. I am confident that with the goodwill and leadership of this bipartisan, bicameral working group in Congress and the support of leading innovators in business, academia, and government, we can continue to bring awareness to this issue and save lives from this entirely preventable and treatable disease," said Meeks.
"I am excited to welcome my friend Gregory Meeks as Co-Chairman of this important Caucus," said Fortenberry. "Every 45 seconds, a child in Africa dies from malaria. Every day, countless children are disfigured, blinded, developmentally debilitated, and killed by NTDs. These diseases form a heartbreaking global health emergency, and Congressman Meeks is committed to the Caucus' goal of sustained US leadership to end malaria deaths by 2015 and working to curb the spread of NTDs among the most vulnerable. I look forward to working with him."
Malaria, an infectious blood disease spread by mosquitoes, is most prevalent in the developing world, with 90 percent of deaths occurring in Africa. The majority of those killed are pregnant women and children under five years old.
More than one-sixth of the world's population is infected by NTDs, particularly in the most impoverished areas of Latin America and Africa. Most NTDs are preventable and treatable parasitic infectious diseases spread by insects or contaminated soil and water, particularly in tropical climates.
The Congressional Malaria Caucus was launched by the late Congressman Donald Payne and Senator John Boozman (R-AR), with the assistance of former First Lady Laura Bush, in 2008 to raise Congressional awareness of the United States' efforts to stem the tide of malaria across the globe. In 2009, the Caucus expanded to include within its mission NTDs control and prevention.
Meeks and Fortenberry are both members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.