Message of Prevention, Message of Hope
NEW YORK, Jan. 23, 2007—Mrs. Monica, of Kassa, Nigeria, got to work immediately after the week-long training she received through the United Methodist Community-Based Malaria Control Program. She asked her husband to cut down or trim trees growing around their home that could harbor mosquitoes. She emptied all containers that could potentially hold stagnant water and become a mosquito breeding ground. She taught her neighbors to do the same. She paid for malaria treatment for some of the children in Kassa, and made sure pregnant women were tested for the disease as well.
Malaria—Part of Life
But Mrs. Monica is an exception in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria is seen as simply a fact of daily life. Yet it's a disease that robs families of their children, and makes parents too sick to work. Thanks to United Methodists, Mrs. Monica won't be the exception for long.
The church's Community-Based Malaria Control Program seeks to create a culture of malaria prevention, educating people most at risk about basic measures they can take to prevent malaria. Armed with the right information people can fight malaria by using treated bed nets, ridding the areas around their homes of stagnant water and reducing the mosquito population. It begins with the awareness that malaria is completely preventable, like the training Mrs. Monica and 36 other women from her community attended recently.
Yolia Raymond, who works at UMC of Nigeria's Rural Health Project in Zing and heads the HIV/AIDS and malaria program there says that the idea of "malaria prevention and control in this part of the world is truly a strange thing because not so many people think that preventing or controlling it can be possible or even realistic." Now, thousands are learning that it is.
The program began just over a year ago in Sierra Leone. Twenty-five people from seven countries, gathered on the program's launching pad at Kissy United Methodist Health Center to learn how to begin malaria programs in their own countries that are sustainable and repeatable. All went home promising to spread the good word that this chronic and common disease that steals a life every 30 seconds can be prevented through some basic measures.
Learning to Combat Malaria
What is happening in Southern Nigeria under Mr. Raymond's leadership is an example of how the United Methodist malaria program is propagating all across Africa. Community leaders like Mrs. Monica are learning the how-to's of malaria prevention, anti-malaria medication for pregnant women, prenatal education on disease prevention and distributing mosquito nets to vulnerable families.
They are even working to grow their own malaria medicine. The Rural Health Program is planting farms of Artemisia annua or sweet wormwood which provides a key element in anti-malarial drugs. These plants are normally grown in China. Having access to them in Nigeria will help make this life saving medicine more accessible and affordable. In a community full of inspired people like Mrs. Monica, malaria doesn't have a fighting chance.
How You Can Help
Help spread the word of hope that malaria can be prevented. Give to Malaria Control, UMCOR Advance #982009 to support this program in Nigeria and the many others throughout Africa engaged in life-giving work. Your tax-deductible gift may be placed in United Methodist church offering plates or sent directly to: UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068. Checks should be written to UMCOR.You can also make a credit card donation by calling 1-800-554-8583.