ELCA NEWS SERVICE
September 24, 2012
ELCA effort toward controlling malaria yielding successful results
CHICAGO (ELCA) - Ackson Chisaka, a Lutheran pastor in Zambia, is witnessing first hand how education about malaria, prevention and treatment of the disease is making a life-saving impact.
Enoch Shidola, a clinical officer at a health center in the same town where Chisaka serves, agrees and went so far as to report that, by a conservative estimate, malaria cases in Kashima, in Zambia's Mufumbwe northwestern region, have been reduced to half.
Chisaka and Shidola attribute this turnaround to the anti-malaria campaigns and programs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia and the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Africa (Zambia Diocese). In partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) -- particularly through its ELCA Malaria Campaign -- these churches and others across Africa are contributing to the prevention, treatment and control of malaria, as well as considering how poverty further complicates alleviation of the disease.
Lutheran churches in Africa have reached thousands of members and community residents with information about malaria. In early 2012, more than 4,670 people in Zambia took part in "awareness sessions" designed to stress the importance of malaria testing and understand clinical treatment options, particularly in the first 24 hours after the appearance of symptoms. Church and community leaders were trained to lead awareness sessions, and more than 1,160 rapid diagnostic tests were distributed. More than 2,030 people with malarial symptoms were tested in several open clinics in the northwestern part of Zambia.
Prior to these campaigns, malaria symptoms often went untreated, according to Chisaka, and many people were unaware of what dangerous effects the disease can have, especially on children. Pregnant women would seek care from "traditional healers" who administrated herbs that induced labor instead of seeking care from health clinics, he said.
Every 60 seconds a child dies of malaria, a treatable and preventable disease that kills more than 655,000 people a year, mostly children in Africa.
To help bring an end to malaria-related deaths, the ELCA has partnered with Lutheran churches, organizations and projects in 11 African countries through its ELCA Malaria Campaign.
Rolled out following an action of the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA Malaria Campaign is uniquely positioned to provide mosquito nets, insecticides, medication, health care, education and more. A goal of the campaign is to raise $15 million by 2015 to support the anti-malaria efforts of Lutheran churches and organizations in African countries.
From January to June 2012, 58 awareness sessions in Zimbabwe were carried out by "Malaria Focal Persons" about one every three days. More than 690 community members throughout Zimbabwe were trained in malaria treatment methods, including rapid diagnostic testing, intermittent preventive treatment and early treatment-seeking behaviors.
"The statistics are compelling, even more so when we realize that each awareness session, each rapid diagnostic kit, each dose of malaria medication represents entire lives that have been changed and enriched by the work of the ELCA Malaria Campaign," said Jessica Nipp Hacker, coordinator of the ELCA Malaria Campaign.
"Gifts to the ELCA Malaria Campaign have empowered our Lutheran sisters and brothers in Africa to provide necessary training and resources to their communities and to accomplish their malaria-control goals for 2012," said Nipp Hacker. "The continuing support of ELCA members will mean additional life-changing programs in years to come."
Information about the ELCA Malaria Campaign is available at www.ELCA.org/malaria.
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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 4.2 million members in 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.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com