Texas and Côte d’Ivoire Annual Conferences Join Forces to Fight Malaria
By Michelle Scott*
NEW YORK, June 2, 2008-The Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is giving $1 million to combat malaria in the Côte d'Ivoire Annual Conference. The gift is part of an ongoing covenant relationship between the two annual conferences and will leverage a total of 500,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets for the nation.
The General Board of Global Ministries will be a key part of the effort to bring and distribute this largest distribution of nets ever to take place in Côte d'Ivoire.
At the 2007 Texas Annual Conference, the region set out to raise $1 million for the nets over the next two years. The conference exceeded all expectations and surpassed its goal in just 12 months.
The funds raised will support the United Nations Foundation's Nothing But Nets campaign. The United Methodist Church is a founding partner of the campaign that has raised more than $20 million to fight malaria so far.
At $10 a net, the $1 million gift will purchase 100,000 insecticide treated nets. The number of nets that will be donated to Côte d'Ivoire will multiply through a generous $4 million contribution from the United Nations Foundation to support the effort.
The goal of the November net distribution is to cover every child aged five and younger in the proposed six-district distribution area with a mosquito net. The districts were selected because they are areas underserved through other free net distribution programs and they are areas in which the United Methodist Church is particularly strong.
First Steps in Conference Covenant
"We're not going to deliver nets and be done," said Cynthia Harvey director of the Texas Annual Conference's Center for Missional Excellence. She notes the importance of the larger covenant between the two annual conferences that was formalized through a covenant proclamation signed by Bishop Benjamin Boni (Côte d'Ivoire) and Janice Riggle Huie (Texas) at the Texas Annual Conference in late May.
Among the items in the covenant is the commitment to, "cover the nation of Côte d'Ivoire with insecticide treated nets and reduce the malaria deaths of children under the age of five in significant ways."
The distribution of the nets is to take place November 10-15, 2008, as part of a national vaccination campaign. Those receiving free vaccines through the Measles Initiative will also receive a mosquito net with training and supportive literature. The Texas and Côte d'Ivoire Annual Conferences are working in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, United Nations Foundation, CARE, UNICEF, Global Ministries as well as United Methodist Communications and other organizations to distribute the nets. A team of 35 volunteers from the Texas Annual Conference will be part of the distribution."The projects in this partnership are huge," said Harvey of the inter-agency and organizational connections required to distribute such a large number of nets. "We all bring gifts to the table that we can borrow from one another."
Global Ministries' RoleGlobal Ministries' Health and Welfare and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) units will play a key role in helping with the logistics of the operation.
"We are happy to bring our expertise in logistics and global health to the table in this cooperative project," said Sam Dixon, UMCOR and Health and Welfare's top executive, of the net distribution project. "Our staff members are working closely with both annual conferences, United Nations Foundation, Côte d'Ivoire Ministry of Health, United Methodist Communications and other partners."
"We'll do what ever it takes to ensure that these nets get into the hands of those who need them most," he said.
The Texas Annual Conference is giving their sizeable contribution to Nothing But Nets through The Advance. The Advance is an accountable, designated-giving arm of The United Methodist Church that ensures 100 percent of each gift reaches its intended mission or ministry.You can give to Nothing But Nets through Advance #982015.
*Scott is the communications director of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).