By Rolly Loomis, Missionary for Outreach
In order to apply a sustainable and effective solution, the United Methodist Church has determined the best means of fighting malaria is through prevention, treatment, education, and communication. In December The Desert Connection highlighted Prevention and Treatment. This month Education and Communication will be highlighted. There will also be a little information on the United Methodist Church’s partners; The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The United Nations Foundation, and the Global Fund.
Education: community health care workers
Education is a critical component in the fight against malaria. Community health care workers give demonstrations so individuals know how to set up a bed net and understand its value. These volunteers ensure that bed nets are used appropriately and properly maintained. The UMC will increase the number of community health care workers so a greater number of communities will have the benefit of these demonstrations.
It has been proven that these demonstrations are significant. Individuals who have not received the appropriate education concerning bed nets have used them as wedding dresses, fishing nets, and protection for livestock.
Communications: Central Conference communications
In 2004, the UMC determined that communication infrastructure in Africa needed to be increased. Funding for this has made it possible to develop 15 communication centers throughout Africa. The UMC will use this strengthened infrastructure not only to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, but also to increase awareness of malaria.
For a continent that relies on communication methods such as radio, cell phones, and word of mouth, enhancing communication infrastructure will increase the number of people who have the opportunity to hear messaging about malaria.
It has been proven that receiving frequent, inspirational messaging about bed nets is imperative in the fight against malaria. Only one bed net out of every two that is distributed will be used properly without this messaging.
United Nations Foundation:
The United Methodist Church is a founding partner of Nothing But Nets with the U.N. Foundation. Through this partnership, The UMC and The Desert Southwest Conference have been able to send thousands of life saving bed nets to Africa. More recently, the U.N. Foundation gave the UMC a grant to cover the expenses of Imagine No Malaria. As a result of this blessing, all of the funds raised go directly to Africa.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria:
The Global Fund is the largest funder of relief for malaria in Africa. Partnering with them will drastically increase the access of UMC programs to substantial financial resources. Furthermore, through our partnership they will have access to our hospitals and clinics, which are in very remote places where other organizations and even governments have little or no presence.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recognized the potential of faith based organizations to effectively fight diseases of poverty. This is particularly evident in Africa, where 60% of health care comes through a church. In light of this, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supported the grant gifted to the UMC by the U.N. Foundation.