Farewell to Dr. Bernard Nahlen, PMI Deputy Coordinator

It is with a great deal of respect and admiration that we bid farewell to Dr. Bernard Nahlen, the first and only Deputy Coordinator of the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) since early 2007.

After more than a decade with PMI, we congratulate and celebrate his appointment as director of the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health.

The United States has been a driving force and indispensable global partner in the malaria effort with PMI, helping reduce malaria deaths by more than 60 percent, saving almost 7 million lives, and preventing more than 1 billion malaria cases. And, Dr. Nahlen has been essential to this effort providing intellectual, technical, and global programmatic leadership.

Over the past decade with PMI, he worked hand in glove with the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator to oversee the Initiative’s expansion from the original planned 15 PMI focus countries to now 24 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the three programs in the Greater Mekong Region in Asia, aimed at combatting antimalarial drug resistance.

His career has been devoted to malaria.

After medical residency at the University of California at San Francisco, he joined the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and completed training as an epidemic investigation officer.

Later, Dr. Nahlen was the CDC director of the Kisumu field station on the shores of Lake Victoria – one of the most malarious areas in world – where he led research on better drugs, diagnostics, and ways to prevent malaria through groundbreaking research on insecticide-treated bednets. At the time, malaria was stunningly common and intractable. Pediatric wards were full of children with severe malaria – sometimes two or three to a bed. Dr. Nahlen has said it was incredibly tragic and frustrating to watch children die in health facilities where they at least had a chance of surviving. The vast majority of children dying in rural villages never made it to a health facility.

Since then, in subsequent roles with the World Health Organization, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and PMI, Dr. Nahlen has shaped global policies, developed programs, and forged partnerships to end malaria for good.

On behalf of the PMI team, it has been an honor and privilege to work with Dr. Nahlen. National malaria control programs are more effective, sustainable, and accountable in part from his leadership contributions. And together, we have generated significant progress and hope for an ultimate escape from the burden of malaria. 

Many children are alive because of Dr. Nahlen’s work to scale up proven malaria interventions, build the skills and capacity of Ministries of Health and district health leaders to manage and coordinate malaria control activities, and strengthen health systems. I thank and bid farewell to you, Dr. Nahlen.

Irene Koek signature

Irene Koek
Acting Global Malaria Coordinator

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