United Methodist Anti-Malaria Work Recognized at White House Summit
Washington, DC, December 15, 2006 —The commitment of The United Methodist Church to the eradication of malaria was recognized at a December 14 forum hosted by President and Mrs. George W. Bush.
The Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, was among those invited to the White House Summit on Malaria. The New York Times called the gathering "the Who's Who" of the global opponents of malaria.
The global ministries board, the Church's international mission agency, announced a malaria prevention and control effort in August of 2005. It more recently joined with United Methodist Communications to represent the Church in the "Nothing But Nets" campaign of the United Nations Foundation, in league with the National Basketball Association and Sports Illustrated.
The Church's work with "Nothing But Nets" was twice recognized from the podium at the summit, by Melinda Gates and Elizabeth McKee of the UN Foundation. Mrs. Gates and her husband, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, are spending millions through their foundation to find a malaria vaccine.
Malaria, spread by mosquitoes, infects millions of people, primarily in Africa, Asia, and parts of Latin America. Some 800,000 African children per year die of the malady, which can be prevented.
Held at the headquarters of the National Geographic Society, the summit was part of the Bush Administration's effort to raise the profile of malaria as the deadly disease it is and to rally governments, foundations, charities, corporations, and faith organizations to combat it.
"I believe that people are finally recognizing that we can do a great deal to reduce, and eventually to eliminate, malaria," Mr. Day said in reflecting on the forum. "It was gratifying to see so many leaders from the public and private sectors come together around this age-old health problem."
Mr. Day related Mrs. Gates' remarks that while the National Geographic auditorium was packed on December 14, ten years ago such a meeting could have taken place in a broom closet.
"As I looked around that room, I saw potential for a profound impact on the elimination of malaria and other preventable diseases," Day said. "We are talking about the lives primarily of children, and we can do something about it, and since we can, God requires that we do it."
"Nothing But Nets" is one important part of the malaria initiative of the General Board of Global Ministries. Administered by the UN Foundation, the program not only distributes mosquito nets, beginning in Nigeria, but also offers other health services such as inoculations against measles.
A pilot community-based malaria prevention program is also underway in Sierra Leone. It uses church-related medical personnel to teach local church and community leaders on the use of nets and prevention medications.
United Methodists and others can contribute to the nets campaign and to the work in Sierra Leone through the Advance for Christ and His Church, the designated mission giving channel of the denomination.
The Advance number for "Nothing But Nets" is 982015. The number for the community-based program is 982009.
Gifts can be made by credit card online at gbgm-umc.org (select the icon for online giving to the Advance) or by phone at (888) 252-6174; contributions by mail should be sent to Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068, or donations can be made through the offering plate of any United Methodist congregation. Donors should make sure that the appropriate Advance number is on each check. One hundred percent of every Advance gift goes to the designated ministry.