|Texans to cover Cote d?Ivoire with mosquito nets|
A mother in Nigeria protects her child behind an insecticide-treated mosquito net provided by the Nothing But Nets campaign. The initiative is a key focus of the new partnership between the Texas and Cote d'Ivoire annual conferences. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
A UMNS Report
By Eleanor L. Colvin*
April 11, 2007
Elizabeth McKee visits with Muji Bakare, who received a mosquito net at his elementary school in Lagos, Nigeria. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
The Nothing But Nets campaign for malaria prevention will be a key focus of the new ministry partnership between United Methodists in the Texas and Cote d’Ivoire annual (regional) conferences.
Malaria kills more than a million people a year, and 90 percent of those are African children, according to the Nothing But Nets campaign. Every 30 seconds, an African child dies of malaria.
In the time it took to read the first two paragraphs of this article, malaria claimed another African life.
"We pray through our partnership that God will bring about the next generation of healthy children," said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, who led a delegation from the Texas Conference in a visit to Cote d’Ivoire in March. "We, too, pray that we will be part of a partnership that acts on Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves. And you are our neighbors."
The deadliest killer
The effects of malaria are far reaching. It’s been cited as "the No. 1 cause of poverty on the continent," said Elizabeth McKee, director of marketing for the United Nations Foundation. "Malaria costs Africa $12 billion a year in economic loss – not including treatment."
The Nothing But Nets partnership unites groups such as the people of The United Methodist Church, the United Nations Foundation, Sports Illustrated, the National Basketball Association’s NBA Cares, Major League Soccer’s new MLS W.O.R.K.S. initiative, and other partners.
"We are all coming together to prevent, treat and eventually eradicate this disease," McKee said.
The campaign is raising money to buy and distribute insecticide-treated bed nets to families in Africa. A $10 donation covers the cost of buying and distributing the net as well as educating the family in its use. A single net can protect a family of four people sleeping together from mosquito bites at night, when transmissions are prevalent.
During the Texas delegation’s March visit, the political leaders of Cote d’Ivoire were open to learning about Nothing But Nets.
"This is a gift of God to bring you to Cote d’Ivoire to say let’s partner," said former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny. "Your focus on women and children is important because educating a woman is educating a nation.
"It’s true that HIV is important, and HIV is global. Malaria is tropical. Malaria kills more people here than HIV. You can prevent malaria, but sometimes the resources don’t exist."
That sentiment was echoed when the delegation visited with Cote d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo.
Bishop Janice Riggle Huie addresses the Cote d'Ivoire Annual Conference meeting where the partnership is announced. A UMNS photo by Eleanor Colvin.
"I am very happy to receive you – first because I’m a Christian myself," said President Gbagbo. "You raised a key question – the question of malaria.
"People talk a lot about AIDS because AIDS does not have a remedy. People are so scared of AIDS … people feel doomed. In terms of quantity, in our country, malaria kills more people than AIDS."
Gbagbo endorsed the partnership. "We welcome this initiative," the president said. "I’m happy you are talking church to church, conference to conference, and I will support this initiative. It is our priority as the state to assist such initiatives."
Africa Malaria Day
Insecticide-treated bed nets have been identified as the most cost-effective way to prevent the spread of malaria. Medicines are available to treat and prevent the disease, but often they are expensive and not widely available.
An estimated 4.5 million nets will be needed to cover the families of Cote d’Ivoire.
"Even if only half the village is covered," McKee said, "it’s depleting the mosquito population of the whole village."
The nets are effective for about five years. McKee said research is being funded that could lead to a vaccination for the disease.
To learn how to make a donation, visit www.nothingbutnets.net or www.umc.org/nets.
Wednesday, April 25, has been designated Africa Malaria Day and, for the first time in the United States, President Bush has proclaimed a Malaria Awareness Day that same day.
*Colvin is director of communications for the Texas Annual Conference.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
Texas, Cote d'Ivoire conferences join hands
Africa Malaria Day set for April 25
Anti-malaria campaign scores at NBA All-Star Week
'March Madness' advances Nothing But Nets drive
United Methodists host Nothing But Nets partners in Angola
Nothing But Nets
Malaria Initiatives of The United Methodist Church
Profile of Cote d'Ivoire
Texas Annual Conference
African Episcopal areas