ELCA observes World Malaria Day as it nears $15 million campaign goal

4/23/2015 9:10:00 AM

​     CHICAGO (ELCA) – In observance of World Malaria Day April 25, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) commemorates the global anti-malaria effort and reaffirms the church’s commitment in helping bring an end to malaria-related deaths in Africa. Through the ELCA Malaria Campaign, ELCA members and others have contributed $13.8 million toward the campaign’s goal of raising $15 million by the end of 2015.
     “We’re part of a historic moment where malaria reduction has been the focus of many organizations and governments,” said Allison Beebe, ELCA Malaria Campaign assistant. “This global effort has slashed the death rate from malaria in Africa in half since 2000 and reduced cases by 45 million per year. The ELCA, our Lutheran partners and our companion churches are all a part of this life-saving work.”
     The ELCA Malaria Campaign, launched by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, joins ELCA members with companion Lutheran churches and partners in 13 African countries to prevent and treat malaria and educate communities about the disease. As a result of campaign contributions, malaria programs in eight countries have been fully funded. Five countries – Liberia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Burundi and Namibia – still need additional support, and their programs depend on the campaign reaching its $15 million goal.
     Beebe said progress in the fight against malaria is “measurable and real.” Programs supported by the campaign have educated more than 2 million people about malaria prevention and treatment. In addition, 50,000 mosquito nets have been distributed to vulnerable households, and more than 32,000 expectant mothers have received preventive malaria treatment during pregnancy.
     “Guided by the Holy Spirit and responding to the call to walk with our neighbors in Christ, making malaria history has captured the hearts and imaginations of faithful Lutherans across the country,” said Beebe. “Throughout the ELCA, congregations are displaying bed nets, hanging swarms of paper mosquitoes, running mosquito mile races, dressing up like insects, dancing to African music and ultimately passing the offering plate, all in hopes of contributing to malaria reduction.”
     According to the World Health Organization’s latest estimates from December 2014, malaria mortality rates have fallen by 47 percent globally since 2000 and by 54 percent in the World Health Organization African region. Mortality rates among children in Africa have been reduced by an estimated 58 percent since 2000.
     As quoted in an ELCA Malaria Campaign blog post, Edulu Emmanuel, a village health team member in the Katakwi district of Uganda, said that before the anti-malaria program came to their communities, “malaria cases were rampant. People didn’t know what causes malaria, how to prevent it or even that it was treatable.” He explained that because of the training he has received, “I have been able to bring education on preventing, testing and treating malaria to the local level. Cases of malaria have reduced. This is positive change.”
     “I lost my firstborn child due to malaria,” remembers Ester Akiror, in another campaign blog post. Akiror now reports, “My children are healthy and they no longer fall sick. We sleep well, and they also can go to school.” She also gives thanks: “I am happy because my children are no longer ill, and I can save money to feed them well. I used some of my savings for gardening. I bought a goat, and I can afford milk for the family.”
     “ELCA members have been enormously generous, and we are so grateful for their gifts and engagement,” said Beebe. “Malaria only costs about $3 to test and treat, so every dollar truly makes a difference.”
     The ELCA Malaria Campaign is one of the initiatives included in the ELCA’s five-year comprehensive campaign, “Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA.” Approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign seeks to raise $198 million to help sustain and grow the ministries of this church.
 Information about the ELCA Malaria Campaign is available at www.ELCA.org/MalariaDay.

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

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