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Conference joins denomination’s fight to end malaria

Conference joins denomination’s fight to end malaria

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Conference joins denomination’s fight to end malaria

By Derek Maul | July 12, 2010 {1196}

LAKELAND — A mosquito bite in Florida is merely an irritation. In other parts of the world, it’s a killer.

In 2008, 863,000 people died of malaria spread by mosquitoes, according to the World Health Organization. Eighty-nine percent were African, and 88 percent were children under age 5. An additional 243 million people were infected.

“Five children died during this video,” the Rev. Audrey Warren tells members after they watched an informational video about the denomination’s Imagine No Malaria campaign. One child dies of malaria every 30 seconds, according to the video. Photo by Dave Summerill. Photo #10-1511. Click on picture for larger photo or view in photo gallery with longer description.

Malaria may affect half the nations in the world, but two-thirds of all cases are confined to just seven countries across Central Africa.

Today, according to a TIME Magazine report (June 21, 2010), an unprecedented global campaign is underway to eradicate the disease.

The United Methodist Church, including the Florida Conference, is part of that fight.

The Rev. Audrey Warren, senior pastor at Branches United Methodist Church in Florida City, shared details of the denomination’s “Imagine No Malaria” initiative June 11 during the 2010 Florida Annual Conference Event.

Warren also told members about the fire that destroyed her church May 23.

“We know all about mosquitoes in South Florida,” she said. “And we also know that those who set the arson fire at Branches were not experiencing the transforming love of Jesus Christ.”

Warren used that experience to highlight the urgent need for the message of Christ’s love to be shared in practical ways throughout the world. Eradicating malaria is one very critical and tangible method.

Taking the next step

The Imagine No Malaria campaign is a ministry of the denomination’s Global Health Initiative and an expression of one of its four areas of focus — fighting diseases of poverty.

The goal is to eradicate malaria as a major source of death and suffering in Africa by 2015. The public launch of the campaign was World Malaria Day April 25.

Warren is leading the initiative’s Florida Conference task force.

Kaltouma Zakaria Moussa relaxes beneath a new mosquito net provided by the Nothing But Nets campaign at her home in a camp near Goz Beida, Chad. A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose. Photo #10-1398. Originally accompanied e-Review Florida UMNS #1136, 02/04/10.

The campaign is an extension of “Nothing But Nets,” a partnership between The United Methodist Church, the United Nations Foundation, Sports Illustrated and other organizations to provide insecticide treated nets to families to prevent malaria. United Methodists have raised $7.5 million dollars since becoming a partner in the effort in 2006. Each $10 donation to the campaign buys a bet net.

With Imagine No Malaria, the church’s commitment is tenfold — $75 million dollars. And the United Nations Foundation is again a partner. It gave the denomination a $5 million grant to establish the campaign, paying for all administrative costs so any donated funds can be used for the campaign’s activities in Africa.

The United Nations, Warren said, has partnered with The United Methodist Church for one simple reason. “The church is the most widely respected institution on the continent of Africa,” she said.

Other partners include the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Lutheran World Relief through the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, which also has a $75 million goal.

Imagine No Malaria will go beyond the provision of protective netting and expand the crusade to include education, prevention, communication, medical clinics and outreach into rural areas where as many one in five children die of the disease.

An informational video about the initiative shown during Warren’s presentation reported that one child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.

“Five children,” Warren added, “died during this video.”

Intervention as game-changer

The goal may be ambitious — eliminating malaria by 2015 — but the potential payoff is huge.

“The lobbying group Malaria No More reckons that the disease costs Africa $12 billion a year,” TIME Magazine reported. “Fixing that would be the biggest boost to health and development in history.”

“This is our opportunity to witness to the world,” Warren said. “I’m confident that we are willing to respond to this initiative.”

Warren was so confident she asked conference attendees to start right then, using their cell phones to text ‘Malaria’ to 27722.

“Press ‘send,’ ” she said. “It will automatically bill your cell phone $10.”

Warren told members the conference is forming a committee to steer the initiative. She promised to keep people informed as efforts progress and share ways they can be involved.

“The world is looking to us to provide healing,” she said.

More information about the initiative and Nothing But Nets is available at and

Information about the denomination’s Global Health Initiative and Four Areas of Focus is available at and, respectively.

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011,, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Maul is an author and freelance writer based in Valrico, Fla.