The Lutheran malaria program in Nigeria is utilizing a unique approach in bringing malaria education, prevention and treatment to affected communities: the program mobilizes the well-developed and well-connected Women Fellowship of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN).
Pregnant women, elderly women and very young children are among the populations most vulnerable to malaria. Therefore the participation of women leaders has been the key to the success of the malaria program in Nigeria. Here's one example: Last January, at a convention of the Women Fellowship group in the Bonotem Diocese (a local division of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria), women participants were trained on malaria prevention and control. Even before the end of the convention, the new leaders were able to put their training directly into action: 58 pregnant women received the medication that prevents malaria during pregnancy. These women returned home healthy, better protected against malaria and well equipped to advocate for the malaria intervention that they had already seen in action!
During the LCCN's annual convention (their "churchwide assembly"), Lutherans offered malaria treatment to participants and neighbors. Seventy-eight pregnant women received malaria preventative medicine, and 100 others, including many children under the age of 5, were tested and treated. What a great example of preaching the gospel in word and deed—of being church together.
At every opportunity, women leaders in Nigeria are trained to recognize, prevent and treat malaria and to educate others. Malaria is becoming a mainstream topic in the Women Fellowship and, through their leadership, in the whole Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria. So far, 247 women leaders from 4 different division of LCCN have been trained to educate others; to distribute malaria medication to pregnant women and to use, maintain and distribute mosquito nets in their communities—especially to families with pregnant women and young children.
Women of all faiths are being trained to lead, and leaders in the Lutheran malaria program are reaching out to all of their neighbors. In a place where religious differences can sometimes lead to tension, Christian and Muslim women acting together against malaria is a road toward peace.
Please pray for our sisters and brothers in Adamawa State in Nigeria as they fight malaria against a backdrop of political unrest and insecurity. Lord, have mercy.
*We are grateful to Global Health Ministries and the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria for the report and photos.