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This Former President is Still on a Mission to Fight Malaria

Photo credits: wikimedia commons

A recent interview with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, published to mark World Malaria Day on April 25th, touched on Sirleaf’s ongoing leadership in global health, her mission to raise awareness about malaria, and her unique life journey in politics.

The article started by discussing Sirleaf’s legendary accomplishment of becoming the first elected female head of state in Africa in 2006. Not only this, but the former president of Liberia is also the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Despite being 83 years old, she has not slowed down - she recently visited Washington D.C. to advocate for the commitment of more funding to fight malaria.

In the detailed interview, Sirleaf discussed how her personal motivation to advocate for malaria stems from her experience of having malaria as a child and from witnessing the continued impact that malaria is having in Africa. She highlighted how critical advocacy is in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that has diverted resources and attention away from malaria, affecting the ability of health systems to address malaria.

The article then shifted to discussing her experiences as a woman in politics. One of the questions I found particularly interesting was about what advice she would give to women seeking to enter politics. Sirleaf stated

“Women have to be determined to compete. Women have to have a specific goal they want to achieve and ensure that they stay on course with self-confidence. It's going to take effort to break the stereotypes that women face and all the barriers because [it is] a male-dominated world. And [they've] got to be prepared to take criticism as women are always subjected to criticisms, sometimes unfairly.”

Sirleaf is a role model, not only because of her passion and advocacy in global health, but because of her accomplishments in politics as the first female president of an African country.

To follow Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visit: Twitter -@MaEllenSirleaf

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