Carter Center News Spring 2009
Last November, The Carter Center was one of the sponsors of a major health initiative in Ethiopia, in which some 5 million people were treated for trachoma and tested (and treated, when needed) for malaria in a one-week campaign. You might wonder how many staff members The Carter Center sent from Atlanta headquarters to Ethiopia to handle this unprecedented, labor-intensive effort, called Maltra week. We sent one person.
How did we succeed with so few staff? The answer lies in the Center's general philosophy of working as efficiently as possible, so our limited funds can go as far as possible. First, we relied on in-country staff to handle much of the work. Whenever possible, we set up a field office and hire local staff members to take on longterm projects. This makes sense on many fronts, including economy. But we also know that when local people do the work, a program becomes entrenched in the society and can be sustained long after the Center leaves.
Second, in Ethiopia, we worked with several partners to organize the Maltra week event. Our top partner in nearly all of the Center's peace- and health-related programs is the government of the country where we are working. Such cooperation gives us access and further promotes sustainability. During Maltra week, we also worked with the Ethiopian Lions Clubs in conjunction with the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Not only do the Lions help fund our river blindness and trachoma work in Ethiopia, but their representatives throughout the country helped mobilize every level of government and community members for the Maltra week activities. Pfizer Inc, another partner, donated the azithromycin for the event and all of our other trachoma work.
Finally, our ongoing commitment in many countries allows us to do more with less. Not only is Teshome Gebre the Center's point-man for trachoma in Ethiopia, he also heads up our efforts to fight Guinea worm disease, malaria, and river blindness there, and has been working with us for more than 15 years. Such long-term tenure among senior staff members in the field is not uncommon.
Our staff may be headquartered in Atlanta, but our reach is far and deep.