|United Nations panel discussion targets malaria|
Marie Akissi Arriko hangs an insecticide-treated
mosquito net in her home in Agboville, Côte d'Ivoire. She received the
net in November during a distribution campaign supported by United
Methodists in Texas and Côte d'Ivoire.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
By Michelle Scott*
Nov. 24, 2008 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
A United Methodist relief executive described how The United
Methodist Church is playing a role in the fight against malaria as he
participated in a panel discussion at the United Nations.
The Rev. Sam Dixon, top executive of the United Methodist Committee on
Relief, was among seven experts talking about "Achieving Our Targets:
Stemming the Tide of Malaria in Africa" during the Nov. 19 panel
sponsored by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
The Rev. Sam Dixon
He cited the reach of The United Methodist Church and its 11.5 million members across the globe.
"United Methodists reach the most impoverished and remote
regions—building schools and universities; hospitals and clinics;
staffing, operating and strengthening critical health delivery systems
from the ground up," Dixon said.
UMCOR is uniquely positioned to assist at the community level, he explained.
"As a faith-based organization, the United Methodist Committee on
Relief, through its religious roots, adds great value to the large
international efforts to control malaria by utilizing the extensive
network of local churches to penetrate deeply into rural and urban
communities," Dixon said.
UMCOR and the denomination’s health programs operate in rural areas
that may prove difficult to reach through traditional nongovernmental
and government networks. "It is these rural and often-impoverished areas
that need the most assistance and suffer the greatest from diseases
like malaria," Dixon added in a later interview.
During the panel, Dixon cited the recent mass distribution of almost 1
million nets in Côte d’Ivoire as an example of the power of faith-based
organizations in the fight to eliminate malaria. United Methodists in
Côte d'Ivoire and Texas were among partners in the Nov. 11-15 campaign,
along with UMCOR and the U.N. Foundation.
"This effort not only offered real help to 1 million households but
empowered recipients with accurate information about the cause of
malaria and basic steps to prevent malaria," he said.
UMCOR mobilized approximately 800 Ivorian United Methodist volunteers
to provide net recipients with basic malaria prevention knowledge. The
training is important because the area is rampant with misconceptions
about the causes of and treatments for malaria, Dixon noted.
Ambassador T. Vance McMahan, U.S. representative to the U.N. General
Assembly, began the session by focusing on the importance of community
education in the fight against malaria. "By educating those most at
risk, we empower them to protect themselves and share information within
their communities," McMahan said.
The need to improve community education on the causes, treatments and
how to prevent malaria was a common thread throughout the panel
"Reaching people at the community level is what gives us the ability
to save lives in our fight against malaria," Dixon explained later.
"UMCOR’s Community Malaria Program works through our United Methodist
churches, hospitals and clinics to break the deadly cycle of malaria
through a comprehensive approach that includes education, preventative
measures and treatment."
“Reaching people at the community level is what gives us the ability to save lives in our fight against malaria.”Joyce Kafanabo, an
official with the Mission of the United Republic of Tanzania, where
malaria has been nearly eradicated from Zanzibar in just three years,
spoke of the importance of prevention and education.
–The Rev. Sam Dixon
"We have all become doctors," she joked, referring to the
self-diagnosis and care that most Africans use to address health needs
because access to doctors and nurses is not always available. To fight
diseases like malaria, development agencies are turning to community
health workers to provide life-saving health information.
Education ensures that parents know when to take their children to a
local clinic when they become ill, what treatments to expect, and how to
prevent malaria in the first place. Prevention methods include properly
and consistently using bed nets and spraying insecticides in and around
Efforts to distribute nets without proper malaria education and
follow-up have proved ineffective. A study in one Kenyan community found
many mosquito nets distributed through prevention campaigns were being
used to dry fish. In other places, mosquito nets have been used as
bridal veils and fishing nets.
To help spread the word about malaria prevention and treatment,
UMCOR's Community Malaria Program takes donations through UMCOR Advance
#982008. People may give through their local United Methodist church or
mail checks to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Write "UMCOR
Advance #982008, UMCOR Community Malaria Program" on the check memo
line. For credit card donations, visit UMCOR's Web site at www.umcor.org or call (800) 554-8583.
*Scott is the executive secretary of communications for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Net Demo at Dadiekro Village
Symbolic first net given
Holy Communion at Dabou Hospital
United Methodists celebrate health campaign
Nets distribution kicks off in Côte d’Ivoire
United Methodists look forward to nets outreach
Ambassador McMahan Statement