Imagine No Malaria
By Shannon Trilli*
October 10, 2011—At General Conference in 2008, The United Methodist Church committed to join the fight against malaria, a preventable and treatable disease that takes the lives of more than 750,000 people, most in sub-Saharan Africa, each year. The UMC’s commitment to this fight was to raise $75 million through the well-known Imagine No Malaria (INM) campaign.
UMCOR’s role in INM is to work with the United Methodist annual conferences in Africa to organize and plan implementation so that, as funds are raised, the churches are prepared to carry out effective malaria control programs. Imagine No Malaria supports programs that purchase medicines; treat patients; train community health workers to teach malaria prevention in local communities; provide supplies to hospitals so they can offer quality care for patients, and distribute mosquito nets.
First, UMCOR worked with each African annual conference to organize a health board, a local body of governance that advises the bishop and Cabinet on the health and malaria priorities and ministry opportunities for the church in each country. The health board worked with UMCOR to participate in initial governance orientation, including workshops on financial management, strategic planning, proposal writing, and malaria control strategies. Some health boards, such as that of the Liberia Annual Conference, even contracted local organizations to facilitate fuller board development and board certification.
The health board strategy was developed to strategically and intentionally shift ownership and responsibility to the church in Africa, and to focus resources on a long-term approach to health and to malaria prevention, while also strengthening the church in Africa.
This month, after three years of fundraising and preparation, United Methodist annual conferences in Africa are being invited to submit grant proposals for use of INM funds. Through a competitive grants process, The United Methodist Church seeks to support the most technical and effective malaria control initiatives.
For annual conferences in Africa that may not have extensive experience developing health program grants, UMCOR will provide technical support and guidance, so that all African annual conferences may access INM resources.
The African UMCs currently are limited to grants of $10,000 to $50,000, but will be invited to implement much larger-scale programs as they demonstrate success and effectiveness with the initial grant levels.
The first round of INM grants will be open from October – December 31, 2011. A technical review panel, made up of UMC and UMCOR partners from within and outside the church, will review, provide feedback, and determine which grants receive funding.
This initiative is different than previous programming precisely because of the long-term preparation and capacity building invested. It is the fruit of purposeful investment in the leadership and potential of Africa, so that our church on the continent can lead and develop innovative, local solutions to health needs and other challenges in local communities.
*Shannon Trilli is the director of UMCOR’s Malaria Inititaive unit.