|Global partnership takes aim at malaria deaths|
Ted Turner (left) listens as Srgian Kerim, president of the
United Nations General Assembly, speaks during an April 1 press
conference announcing the establishment of a global partnership to help
end malaria deaths.
UMNS photos by John C. Goodwin.
By Linda Bloom*
April 2, 2008 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
United Methodist Bishop Janice Huie joined Ted Turner at the United
Nations on April 1 as he announced an expanded global partnership to
help end malaria deaths.
The hope is that the partnership, led by the people of The United
Methodist Church and Lutheran World Relief and organized by the United
Nations Foundation, will raise $200 million to fight malaria in Africa.
Development of the partnership has received support from the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation.
United Methodists already have worked with the United Nations
Foundation — founded by Turner, a businessman and philanthropist, a
decade ago — and other partners on the Nothing But Nets campaign to
purchase and distribute insecticide-treated bed nets for Africa as a
malaria prevention tool. The campaign had raised more than $18 million
by the end of 2007, its first year.
Huie, who is president of the denomination’s Council of Bishops, told
United Methodist News Service that she expects the denomination will
"accept Mr. Turner’s challenge" and become engaged in the effort, "which
we see as an entry point into the diseases of poverty."
She stressed however, that the United Methodist General Conference,
the denomination’s top legislative body, will make the ultimate decision
about the partnership. The 2008 General Conference will meet April
23-May 2 in Fort Worth, Texas.
A devastating disease
Turner, Huie and Chad Amour, representing Lutheran World Relief,
attended the U.N. General Assembly’s "Thematic Debate on the Millennium
Development Goals," which included a luncheon featuring Turner as the
keynote speaker. The invitation came from Ambassador Srgian Kerim of
Macedonia, who is president of the General Assembly.
The eight Millennium Development Goals focus on meeting the needs of
the world’s poorest people and include reducing the numbers afflicted by
extreme poverty in half, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other
diseases, and providing universal primary education – with a target date
Transmitted by mosquitoes, malaria infects more than 500 million
people a year and kills more than a million. In Africa, where the
disease is particularly devastating, it is the leading killer of
United Methodist Bishop Janice Huie listens during the press conference.
During a press conference preceding the luncheon, Turner called the
United Methodist Church and Lutheran World Relief "two of our finest
religious institutions" and lauded the pledge "to do their best to raise
$200 million additionally" to end malaria deaths.
Kerim noted that "security begins with development" and said the
focus needs to be on facts, not politics, in order to achieve the
Millennium Development Goals. "It’s a huge operation; the whole world is
involved," he added. "Of course, it’s difficult, but we’re making
Through the new global partnership, United Methodists and
constituents of Lutheran World Relief — which include members of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church Missouri
Synod — would be educated about malaria and poverty-related diseases and
mobilized for action; support efforts to prevent malaria and strengthen
health systems; and provide financial support to the Global Fund to
Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The initiative also would help
advance the churches’ on-the-ground health missions.
Huie said a recent grant from the Gates Foundation allowed the church
to conduct a feasibility study "that indicates the UMC has the capacity
to raise $100 million (for malaria)."
The global partnership would move the denomination into an arena
"where we hope to be able to leverage the resources and commitment of
United Methodists around the world," she said.
In Africa, the bishop pointed out, the Lutheran presence is stronger
in some countries and United Methodist presence stronger in other
countries. "It’s very complementary that, together, we cover a good
portion of the continent," she added.
Engaging world’s religions
Amour said that while the Lutherans have had experience in
malaria-related programs in some individual countries, the global
partnership offers a more intentional focus on the disease.
During a four-month stay in Tanzania to shoot a documentary, Amour
said he noticed a gap in the funding available for small grass-roots
organizations as compared to bigger U.N.-related organizations. "My hope
is to help Lutheran World Relief fill that gap," he explained.
In his speech at the luncheon, Turner encouraged the United Nations
to engage "the world’s great religions" in advancing the Millennium
"Faith leaders have a long history on the front lines of anti-poverty
efforts," he said. "These institutions have been feeding the hungry,
educating the young and healing the sick longer than the U.N. has been
in existence. And they have a history of walking the talk by actively
engaging their members in this great moral campaign for justice and
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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