LONGEST JOURNEY DEDICATED TO MALARIA
Arriving in South Africa today, David Robertson, a disabled Briton, is on course to smash the world record for the most countries driven through in a single vehicle in the cause of combating malaria. Robertson's arrival coincides with the African Malaria Conference in Durban organised by the Medical Research Council of South Africa and the Wellcome Trust on behalf of the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM).
In the spirit of Jules Verne, crusader, David Robertson, in his Land Rover left Rotterdam on 6th September with the ambition of gaining a place in the Guinness Book of Records with a record-breaking 300,000 mile drive that will take him across six continents over the next five years. With one leg and one arm missing the handicapped man is undertaking the endeavour to raise awareness and funds for malaria, a forgotten disease that still kills over 1 million people annually, most of them young children.
Driving the same 4x4 Land Rover, Robertson aims to smash the current record of 300,000 miles, (482,000 kilometers) through 125 countries created by Emil and liliana Schmidt who started their journey on 16 October 1984.The rules for the record state the driver must "travel through as many countries as possible with the same vehicle".
The campaign to raise awareness for the fight against malaria which began at the World Harbour Festival in Rotterdam, is being carried out in collaboration with Memisa Medicus Mundi, one of Europe's largest Non-Governmental organisations for Healthcare in Developing Countries and the Malaria Foundation International (MFI), a bottom-up organisation of malaria researchers and other professionals, with a main aim to raise global awareness and promote effective communication and global networking against malaria worldwide.
So far David has driven through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovania, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldavia, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Scotland, Wales and England. Over the next few months his journey will take him through various countries in Southern Africa.
David will visit many areas affected by malaria, as well as hospitals and research institutes where Memisa-doctors and MFI affiliated-scientists work on malaria projects. On his trip he will distribute information being provided by the Malaria Foundation International and its partners engaged in the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) initiative being coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva. People in remote areas will be able to 'speak to the world about malaria' using David's state of the art communication's equipment.
The proceeds of the Drive Against Malaria will be donated to various malaria programmes agreed by David Robertson and his partners to help combat the disease. Anyone wishing to follow David's journey 'live' can log into the 'Drive Against Malaria' interactive Web-site (www.driveagainstmalaria.org). This site has a live "chat-room", route maps, facts on malaria, information on countries already visited, a shop to buy and donate bed-nets and medicines, and a question and answer page. The site is regularly up-dated by David himself.
David Robertson: 00.44.498.568358 (mobile) or David_DAM@compuserve.com
Malaria Foundation International
Da Gama, Executive Director, London
R. Galinski, Ph.D., President, Atlanta, USA
Kilama, Ph.D., Member International Board, Tanzania
Memisa Medicus Mundi (Memisa)
Hendriks, Public Relations 00 31 206-4613 (tel) 00 31 622
Schuurman, Press Officer 00 31 10 206-4682 (tel) 00 31 10
NOTES FOR EDITORS
40 Year-old global explorer David Robertson lost his right leg and right arm in a serious motorbike accident in 1977. It did not stop him from seeking adventure and travelling round the world. He has since travelled through 67 countries on expeditions including Trans World 88-91 (crossing 44-countries and three continents-the longest ever Range Rover journey), and the Great South American Geographical Expedition. Robertson's past expeditions have taken him through 6 continents over the past 12 years. David Robertson knows what it is to fight for ones health, during his journey through Kenya, he nearly died after being infected with malaria. He recalls "Around me I saw the misery this disease causes, the many victims, especially young children. While recovering I decided to raise money for health, education and medicines." says Robertson. He will be the sole driver for the entire duration of the expedition, but will be accompanied for up to four weeks at a time by assistants who will navigate and help with video filming and photographic work, as well as with writing a journal and updating the DAM web-site.
MEMISA MEDICUS MUNDI (Memisa)
Memisa Medicus Mundi (Memisa) stands for structural medical development assistance for the benefit of the least privileged. Information, education, and basic health care are key concepts in the projects. Mother and child health care gets a great deal of attention. Production and distribution of affordable medicines are also supported. Memisa always co-operates with local organisations. Wherever necessary, the work of partner organisations is supported by Memisa doctors, nurses, and paramedic staff. If necessary, Memisa renders medical emergency relief. However, this is only done in close collaboration with the local partners. After the first emercency has been alleviated, repair of the health care structure is started. As a member of Medicus Mundi International, Memisa is affiliated with the WHO.
MALARIA FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL (MFI)
The Malaria Foundation International (MFI) is a bottom-up organisation of malaria researchers and other professionals, with a main aim to raise global awareness and promote effective communication and global networking against malaria worldwide. The MFI stands up for effective communication on malaria among researchers, health workers and the general public in both malaria endemic countries and in industrialised countries where people sometimes believe that malaria is a disease of the past.
Memisa and MFI are complementary organisations. While Memisa mostly focuses on direct assistance to health care programmes, MFI aims to support research efforts and translate the latest scientific insights into better malaria control strategies. Both are badly needed. Importantly, Memisa and MFI feel that with this campaign they will raise public and political awareness about the disease as the new international plans for malaria under the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Initiative gets underway. In addition, Drive Against Malaria supported by Memisa and MFI will assist in this new programme and the established Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) by encouraging the general public to support malaria action initiatives. In the long run, this is crucial for their success. The MFI has been officially recognised by both the MIM and RBM initiatives as a central communicator of information, and MFI's role as a partner of the Drive Against Malaria initiative was recently endorsed by the WHO.
The 'Drive Against Malaria' interactive web site (www.driveagainstmalaria.org) is available for anyone who wishes to follow the journey and wants to know more about Memisa's malaria-projects. This site has a live "chat-room", route maps, facts on malaria, information on countries already visited, a shop to buy and donate bed-nets and medicines, a question and answer page. The site is up-dated by David Robertson on a regular basis.
The 'Malaria Foundation International' web site (www.malaria.org) provides general and scientific information about Malaria. It is actively used by scientists and provides up-to-date information about Malaria related issues including conferences and meetings. It is also a central place to follow developments of the two initiatives, the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) and Roll Back Malaria (RBM).