Both the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries and the Episcopal Church’s Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) were invited to the Summit hosted by President George W. Bush and Laura Bush at the National Geographic Society in Washington Thursday.
“As I looked around that room, I saw potential for a profound impact on the elimination of malaria and other preventable diseases,” said the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, in a statement Friday.
The General Board of Global Ministries is the United Methodist Church’s international mission agency. Since August 2005, the Board has been active in malaria prevention and control efforts.
Recently, the United Methodist Church joined the United Nations Foundation, the National Basketball Association’s NBA Cares Foundation, Sports Illustrated, Millennium Promise and the Measles Initiative in a grassroots campaign against malaria called “Nothing But Nets.”
The campaign has raised more than $1.7 million since May, with the first net distribution of 150,000 nets in Nigeria occurring in October. Another net distribution is set for January in Lagos, Nigeria, according to the United Methodist News Service (UMNS).
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease which infects more than 500 million people a year, primarily in Africa, Asia and areas in Latin America. Although Malaria is an easily preventable disease, it kills 3,000 children daily and claims nearly one million people every year. Children under the age of five years old are particularly vulnerable.
Robert W. Radtke, president of ERD, announced the agency’s “NetsforLife” initiative at the Summit. Radtke, who was a featured speaker, said the initiative will deliver one million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets along with critical training of proper net use in 16 countries across sub-Saharan Africa during the next three years. The initiative will work through Anglican churches and ecumenical agencies in Africa.
"NetsforLife is reducing malaria morbidity and mortality for people who live at the end of the road," said Radtke at the Summit, according to the Episcopal News Service.
"It is through the generous support of corporate and individual donors and the tireless work of churches on the ground that we are able to reach the last mile in Africa."
Another initiative was also announced during the White House Summit on Malaria. President Bush launched “Malaria No More,” a cooperative effort among the private sector to reach 12.5 million people in Africa with training on prevention and treatment of malaria. According to The Washington Post, “Malaria No More” is working closely with the “President’s Malaria Initiative” – a $1.2 billion five-year plan to raise awareness of the disease and support grass-roots efforts.
“The goal of defeating malaria is a challenging goal, yet it can be done,” said Bush. “It's not going to require a miracle, it just requires a smart, sustained, focused effort. And that's what we're here to talk about.”
UMC’s Day agreed. “I believe that people are finally recognizing that we can do a great deal to reduce, and eventually to eliminate, malaria,” he reflected to the denomination’s news agency.
“It was gratifying to see so many leaders from the public and private sectors come together around this age-old health problem.”
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