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Fight against malaria needs everyone’s attention, United Methodists say

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A UMNS Photo by John Goodwin

Bishop Joao Somane Machado of Mozambique says that education and communication is part of the cure for malaria.
Nov. 2, 2005

By Linda Bloom*

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Bishop Joao Somane Machado sees children in Mozambique dying of malaria on a daily basis and he wants the world to pay attention.

"This is not an African issue," said Machado, who leads the United Methodist Church in Mozambique. "It’s not only for poor countries. It's global."

The bishop and the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, spoke about the church's new initiative to combat malaria during a Nov. 1 press conference in New York. They were joined by the Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of the bestselling book, The Purpose-Driven Life.

The press conference occurred during the opening of the Nov. 1-3 TIME Global Health Summit, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The summit drew together leaders in medicine, government, business, public policy and the arts to discuss how to make real change on global health issues.

On Oct. 30, the Gates Foundation announced the funding of three grants, for a total of $258.3 million, to fight malaria through the development of an advanced vaccine, new drugs for treatment and improved insecticides and other mosquito control methods.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS Photo by John Goodwin

The Rev. R. Randy Day, addressing the TIME Global Health Summit, says every thirty seconds a child dies of malaria.
In 2004, some 4,000 children in Mozambique died from malaria and Machado hopes those who have united to confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic will also work on malaria. Both diseases are infecting the youth of that country.

"When we talk about poverty, about fighting poverty, we need these young people tomorrow," the bishop said.

Education is key to eradicating malaria in Africa, according to Machado. Using solar-powered or wind-up radios and community radio stations can help provide such education, he noted.

While malaria affects 40 percent of the world’s population – resulting in a million deaths a year -- 90 percent of those cases can be found in sub-Saharan Africa, Day reported.

That is why education and action on this preventable disease is needed there and Day particularly hopes U.S. churches will participate in the new initiative. "No one, absolutely no one, needs to die of malaria in the world today," he said.

The United Methodist Community Based Malaria Prevention Program will be launched in Sierra Leone in early December. Participants from seven countries will come for training at the denomination's Maternity and Health Center in Kissy.

Cherian Thomas, M.D., an executive with the Board of Global Ministries' health and welfare unit, is in charge of the program, which will be administered through the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Church-related health facilities, schools and other institutions, as well as congregations will help meet the program's goals, which include promoting the effective use of insecticide-treated nets, preventative drugs and the control of mosquito-breeding areas. The cost can be as inexpensive as $5 for a bed net and $30 for a radio.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS Photo by John Goodwin

The Rev. R. Randy Day (left), Bishop Joao Somane Machado of Mozambique (center) and the Rev. Rick Warren address a press conference at the TIME Global Health Summit in New York.
Warren, whose ministry is linked to countries around the world, believes that local churches and church members can provide a universal distribution network to help eradicate malaria.

It has been shown, he said, that money and medicine are not enough to stop the spread of malaria. "What is lacking is motivation and mobilization," he added. "Those are the things keeping people in poverty and ill health."

A special fund for the United Methodist Community Based Malaria Prevention Program has been established with the denomination's Advance for Christ and His Church, a "second-mile" voluntary giving program. The Advance Special offers a way for United Methodists to participate in the malaria program as individuals or through local churches, districts and conferences. As a mission project, the program touches upon issues of health care, poverty and the needs of children.

Donations, payable to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, should be designated to Advance No. 982009, "Malaria Control." Checks can be dropped in church collection plates or mailed directly to UMCOR at P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068. Credit-card gifts can be made by calling (800) 554-8583 or going online to

UMCOR also has prepared a church bulletin insert on the malaria program that can be downloaded from by clicking on the resources link.

For more information, visit the United Methodist Church’s Web site at

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

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Video Clips

Bishop Joao Somane Machado: "It is possible to end malaria"

The Rev. R. Randy Day: "Every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria"

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