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 {Photo credit: MSH staff}Amina is one of 3 million children in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa who received seasonal malaria chemoprevention malaria in 2015.Photo credit: MSH staff

Four-year-old Amina is why I work on malaria. I met her in Basse District, The Gambia, last year when I was visiting the team distributing lifesaving malaria treatment to children under five. Words can’t describe the feeling of seeing this young Gambian girl, who had been severely ill with malaria, now beaming with joy, literally running to me for her fourth treatment.

Her mother walked up and described to me how sick Amina had been before MSH and partners began ensuring access to the quality-assured malaria treatments for children under five in the district. Since she first got malaria as an infant, every year during the rainy season (from September through December), Amina would become severely ill with malaria. She couldn’t play with the other kids outside, or go to school. One year, she fell into a coma and was hospitalized. But, in 2015, Amina experienced the opportunity for a healthy life: since September, she had received monthly treatment for malaria, known as seasonal malaria chemoprevention (or SMC). At four years old, Amina knew that this was what stopped her from feeling so ill, and enabled her to feel well.

She ran towards me for her medication, smiling ear to ear.

 {Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH}Gloria Sangiwa (left), MSH Senior Director of Technical Quality and Innovation and Global Technical Lead on Chronic Diseases, talks with another delegate at the Global Health Council (GHC) welcome reception.Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH

This blog post is part of our Global Health Impact series on the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, May 18-24, 2014. MSH is co-hosting three side events focusing on the role of universal health coverage (May 20), chronic diseases (May 20), and governance for health (May 21) in the post-2015 framework. This year, six MSH representatives are attending WHA as part of the 60-plus-person Global Health Council (GHC) delegation.

Sunday was my first day in Geneva for the World Health Assembly (WHA). I attended WHA last year for the first time, and I am feeling a bit like a second-year college student.

As I prepared for this year’s meeting, a few colleagues asked me: Why is the WHA so important to global health policy? Who attends these things and why? I instantly responded to the questions somewhat defensively: "It’s the WHA--that’s why!"

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