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United Methodist Church, partners launch life-saving campaign in Côte d’Ivoire

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2008
(Photos available for download)


United Methodist Church, partners launch life-saving campaign in Côte d'Ivoire
Bed net distribution helps prevent malaria

Alepe, Côte d'Ivoire The people of The United Methodist Church and their partners worldwide helped Cote d'Ivoire's National Program in the Fight against Malaria launch an integrated health campaign November 11 that will vaccinate 3.5 million children in Côte d'Ivoire (formerly Ivory Coast) and blanket the country with bed nets to stop the spread of malaria.

Lauded by government and public health officials as the first integrated campaign of its kind in the West African nation, the insecticide-treated bed nets are being distributed as part of a five-day effort targeting children under age five with measles vaccinations, de-worming medication, and vitamin A.

The World Health Organization estimates that there were 242,000 measles deaths globally in 2006.Additionally, there are more than one million malaria deaths every year.In Africa, a child dies every 30 seconds from malaria.

"Why are we waiting for a malaria vaccination?" asked Dr. Komla Siamevi, the Côte d'Ivoire WHO representative. "One of the best ways to prevent malaria in children under the age of five and pregnant women is to enable them to sleep under an insecticide treated net."

Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, leader of the Texas Conference, is in Côte d'Ivoire with a 35-member volunteer delegation from Texas helping deliver more than 855,000 long-lasting, insecticide treated nets, purchased through the Nothing But Nets campaign, in five of the 18 designated distribution districts this week. The Texas team raised $1 million to support this effort.

The event is the culmination of two years of coordination by the Texas and Côte d'Ivoire regional conferences of The United Methodist Church, the Measles Initiative, the government of Côte d'Ivoire, the UN Foundation and Nothing But Nets, the United Methodist Global Health Initiative, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), PSI, and many others.

"As United Methodists, we believe we are called not only to speak of God's love, but by our actions, demonstrate the love of God," Huie said at the launch. "We are grateful for Bishop Benjamin Boni [of Côte d'Ivoire], for this new partnership and new possibilities for life here in Côte d'Ivoire."

Rosanie Amoakoa Atta is one of more than 1,500 people at the launch who is grateful for those possibilities. Her 10-month old son Nanan Tikoihi, was the first to be vaccinated at Alepe. Although Nanan was crying, his mother was overjoyed.

"My heart is warm," Atta said. "I feel like hitting my chest. I am very happy, because you are protecting my child from a lot of diseases."

For more information on the net distribution in Côte d'Ivoire and other malaria initiatives of The United Methodist Church, visit www.umc.org/nets or Net Gain Against Malaria.


Media Contact:
Diane Denton, United Methodist Communications
615.483.1765 ddenton@umcom.org

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