Claire Koffi sees complicated pregnancies and childbirths at Dabou Hospital in Cote D’Ivoire nearly every day.
At least one woman and as many as eight infants die each month from malaria-related complications. The hospital admits about 125 pregnant women a month, many who have had no prenatal care.
“I feel sorry, especially for at-risk pregnancies. Sometimes, those who come with problems are those who do not have the (financial) means to cope with their problems,” said Koffi, head of nursing and midwifery at the hospital.
Since this is a private hospital, service fees are associated with services, she added. The hospital is highly subsidized but there are still some small costs for the services. You have to pay for services. Most often, this is due to lack of means when they come in serious condition. The hospital is often obliged to assume responsibility for initial medical expenses in order to meet the emergency, she said.”
Koffi also oversees paramedics, midwives, nurses, nursing assistants, servers and cleaners at the hospital. She supervises care for patients, does training when necessary and determines needs for equipment.
Her days often start around 6 a.m. and last until late evening.
“What gives me strength is, above all, God. Because it is from him that comes inspiration. Every day I pray, I ask him to give me the inspiration to enlighten me so that on my way, I do not stumble in my work, and I really think he does. He is using me. It gives me strength because if you see the amount of work and how I organize myself to do all that, I sometimes wonder why I do not faint.”
Mobile health-care unit makes a difference
For those who give birth easily, the effect is the satisfaction of seeing healthy mothers and newborns, she said. About 32 babies are born without complications each month.
“But when they come in a state of complication, it’s scary,” Koffi said. “When they have to go through a Caesarean section and it goes well, it’s also a satisfaction because a C-section is not harmful; it is to save two people, the mother and child,” she said. But sometimes child is dead in the womb, and it is complicated. Deaths of the mothers can also occur, she said.
“The hardest part of the function of a midwife is when she receives a woman who never had a consultation, who never had a testing and never did ultrasound,” Koffi said. Then she knows nothing about the woman, and her work becomes difficult. Midwives do not only take care of pregnant women but also provide information about HIV and AIDS.
Koffi said the hospital collaborates with a Swiss agency to do consultations on high-risk pregnancies. They have a mobile unit that travels to the villages every two months to test and treat pregnant women when necessary.
Maternal and infant death rates have improved, but the numbers are still unacceptably high. If a mother is in poor health, her infant may die from anemia and meningitis. “Today, there is also typhoid fever due to poor hygiene,” Koffi said.
Fewer women come in with complicated pregnancies because they can get to the health centers unless they live in rural areas. “Those who usually die are those who never went to the health centers or are far from those centers,” Koffi said.
In postnatal care, she explained, they often have to treat women who have malaria. A pregnant woman may lose her baby due to malaria if she does not receive care in time. She can die, Koffi said. “Cerebral malaria is the leading cause of death for children we see here,” she said.
To continue to reduce malaria deaths in pregnant women, Koffi said, the men in the communities need greater sensitivity to the needs of the expectant women. We need “husbands to encourage their women and empower them (give them resources) to attend consultations,” Koffi said.
She added that hospital infrastructures need improvement. “Get rid of the big boats (rooms that hold eight to 10 women)” and create smaller suites, she said.
She also wishes for more staff training “since science and equipment evolve. It would improve the quality of care.”
*Broune is a communicator for The United Methodist Church in Cote D’Ivoire.
BASTROP, La. – Every two minutes, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. That statistic shook Diane Haley to her core.
“When I heard about these women and the conditions they give birth in, I just started to cry,” said Haley. “And if I can do a little bit to help, then I’ll do it.”
During that same two minutes, two people die from malaria. About 10,000 pregnant women die from malaria every year.
As Haley learned about the high rate of maternal mortality caused by malaria and lack of maternal health care during a United Methodist Women meeting in Bastrop, La., she learned she could support healthy births by assembling UMCOR birthing kits.
The small kits, which cost about $8 to assemble, contain basic items needed for a healthy birth such as soap, latex gloves and a blanket. These few items can double the chances of a woman surviving during childbirth.
Volunteers assemble and send these kits to the United Methodist Committee on Relief. From there, the kits go to health workers in the field to support women in need. UMCOR workers also give insecticide-treated bed nets to families to protect them from the bite of the mosquito. Since The United Methodist Church launched Imagine No Malaria in 2010, more than 1.2 million nets have been distributed.
Now retired, Haley dedicates all of her extra resources to making these kits. “These women need two pieces of string and some razor blades to birth babies,” she said. “I’ve got a treadmill and an exercise bike, and these poor women have nothing. So I gave up saving for my new Wii and started making these birthing kits.”
Mother’s Day events raise awareness, funds
Haley isn’t alone in responding to The United Methodist Church’s call to support global maternal health this Mother’s Day. On Sunday, May 12, United Methodist congregations across the United States will participate in special worship services and offerings to bring attention to the effects of maternal mortality and malaria on communities around the world.
Mother’s Day initiatives organized by the Imagine No Malaria campaign and the Healthy Families, Healthy Planet project of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society will engage United Methodists to support global health projects through donations and opportunities for advocacy.
Many churches will participate in a special offering to honor their mothers and other important women in their lives and to remember mothers and children who have lost their lives due to malaria. These donations will support the purchase of insecticide-treated nets to protect families around the world. These efforts to prevent malaria will help to reduce the number of maternal deaths as well as anemia in pregnancy, low birth weights and infant deaths.
In addition to the special offering, more than 75 United Methodist leaders will educate their churches about global maternal health and provide opportunities for members to advocate for increased funding for global health programs.
These Healthy Families, Healthy Planet ambassadors educate and mobilize United Methodists to advocate for foreign assistance for maternal health and international family-planning programs.
On Mother’s Day, these ambassadors will host dozens of events to bring awareness to the church’s role in promoting maternal health. Leaders in this movement are often moms who know how critical good health care is during childbirth.
“My grandson was born 10 weeks premature,” said Vanoli. “His mother had access to good maternal health care, and that’s what saved them. If she didn’t have good care, she could have lost her life.”
Kraft is Legislative Advocacy and Communications Associate, Healthy Families, Healthy Planet General Board of Church & Society The United Methodist Church.
Weaver is Communications Coordinator for Imagine No Malaria.
There’s a killer out there, in the dark. Hunting children and pregnant women.
But, it’s not some menacing figure walking our streets. It’s malaria, and it’s killing a child in Africa every 60 seconds.
Beginning Sunday, May 5, Imagine No Malaria will be presenting “A Killer in the Dark,” a documentary about malaria and how we are fighting back. This special television event, narrated by Pauley Perrette (of TV’s NCIS) will air on NBC affiliates (check your local listings) through November 3.
It chronicles community-based efforts on both sides of the ocean – nationally and globally – as everyday people strive to reduce the deadly results of the disease.
As one mother tucks her children into bed in Middle America, a mother in Africa does the same. In the morning, their children will wake with two very different missions directed toward the same critical goal: ending deaths caused by malaria.
Malaria kills 655,000 people each year. Every 60 seconds a child in Africa dies of this preventable and treatable disease. Yet, malaria can be eliminated with the right tools: prevention, treatment, education and communication
We need your help!
To make sure “Killer in the Dark” is part of your NBC station’s lineup between May 5 and Nov. 3, we need your help.
- Call or email your local NBC affiliate and ask them to share this important message with your community. Request that it be scheduled during a time to reach the most viewers.
- Spread the word. Ask your congregation and other groups to call and help your local affiliates to choose to air the broadcast.
- Watch it together. We encourage congregations and community groups to view the documentary together. Then engage in conversation on how you can become involved. Join the movement | Get involved | Get Resources and ideas | Give
The list of stations confirmed to broadcast “Killer in the Dark” is growing every day, and we thank you for helping make sure we reach as many people as possible!
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – In mid-April, 13 new and veteran Imagine No Malaria field coordinators and guests from 12 United Methodist annual (regional) conferences gathered in Nashville, Tenn., for a week of intensive training.
Sandra Weaver, Imagine No Malaria communications coordinator, told participants that the campaign message has changed from “eradicating or eliminating malaria deaths” to “reducing the number of preventable deaths” by 2015. Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
Weaver noted that since the effort began, deaths from malaria have been cut in half. According to the World Health Organization, in 2010, malaria caused an estimated 660,000 deaths, mostly among African children.
Working with conference leaders and Imagine No Malaria staff, field coordinators are “the key catalysts and resource people for grassroots fundraising in congregations,” said Sheri Altland, INM campaign director.
The field coordinators’ role, she said, “is to actively engage the whole conference – congregations and conference leaders – in the campaign to save lives by raising funds. We work directly with conferences to help them understand how to have an effective Imagine No Malaria campaign through awareness, education, advocacy and fundraising.”
No two campaigns are alike because no two conferences are identical. Each field coordinator creates specific benchmarks and a plan of action for his or her conference campaign. Training conference- and district-level volunteers is high on the list of responsibilities, Altland said. The field coordinators facilitate a conference Imagine No Malaria steering committee with the bishop as a major player and collaborate with other groups to determine effective community-outreach options.
Imagine No Malaria switched from “central office” coordination to the field coordinator model in August 2012.Currently,field coordinators in six conferences are engaged in active campaigns. Seven new field coordinators will launch conference campaigns by June 1. Several other conferences have taken preliminary steps to get on board by yearend.
The ideal, Altland said, would be for all 59 U.S. annual conferences to have field coordinators. She encouraged conferences to contact Ashley Gish who directs and resources field services for Imagine No Malaria.
Tiny cost, huge impact
LeRae Collins, a laywoman from Fountain City United Methodist Church, Knoxville, Tenn., began her work as a Holston Conference field coordinator in August 2012.
“We are not simply saving lives through Imagine No Malaria,” she said. “We are changing lives in our churches and communities through this ministry. Imagine No Malaria is a living example of how God can do extraordinary things and how together, as a connectional church, we are able to do extraordinary things through God.
“I am passionate about Imagine No Malaria because Christ has offered abundant life to me. For me, Imagine No Malaria is an opportunity for the people of The United Methodist Church to join together to do an extraordinary thing.”
“This was a chance for me to get refreshed after being in the field for six months,” she said, “ to share best practices, hear new stories, and get the latest statistics and info to take back and share.
“Some problems are so complex, and we feel hopeless in the face of them. But malaria is something we know how to prevent, treat and beat. The cost is tiny, and the impact is huge.
“In this effort,” Dawson continued, “I have found a ministry that cares for the whole person, saves lives and does so by empowering our brothers and sisters in Africa and getting us out of our ‘comfortable places’ back at home.”
‘Empowering local leaders’
The Rev. Kerry Greenhill, an ordained deacon from the New England Conference, serves the Rocky Mountain Conference as field coordinator.
In her role since January, she said, “What excites me about the campaign is that this is a ministry of health and healing that is about both compassion and justice. Not only are we relieving suffering for thousands of families across Africa; we are also empowering local leaders through training, support and accountability to develop the infrastructure that will support future public health efforts in a sustainable way.
“Children in the United States don’t have to worry that they might die from a mosquito bite, but children in Africa still do. I believe that just as Jesus made healing a central part of his ministry, we as the body of Christ today have a calling to offer healing, wholeness and abundant life in Jesus’ name.”
Along with getting up-to-speed on their responsibilities, participants also learned the latest about the United Methodist initiative to fight malaria and heard about three upcoming special events:
- April 20 – “Mary and Martha” debut on HBO (While the movie has no direct connection with INM, the subject is two mothers who lose sons to malaria.)
- May 12 – Mother’s Day alternative-giving program
- Starting May 18 – “A Killer in the Dark: An Extraordinary Effort to Combat Malaria” , with an updated message to be aired by NBC affiliates
“When one of us has malaria,” said participant Charissa B. Shawcross, a mission interpreter for the North Central Jurisdiction, “we all have malaria.”
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.
A Big Finish for the Next Mile
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1: 8-9
While the folks who participated in “The Next Mile” didn’t travel to the ends of the earth, the awareness they brought to Imagine No Malaria will likely stretch well beyond the boundaries of the District they represent.
On a crisp and cool Thursday morning Charles and Randy gathered in downtown Maryville, TN at Broadway UMC to prepared for what was going to be a busy day. Several members of the church were also there to take a trip to Asheville, NC. While everyone put on their gear, checked their bicycles, and made sure the lunches were packed, a few church members came over to see what was going on and offer words of encouragement.
The bicycle team was the first to leave. Randy Pasqua and Don Washburn were joined by Broadway UMC Pastor Laura Rasor and her husband David Schoeni. Charles Maynard was joined by St. John UMC Pastor William Shelton and LeRae Collins, the Conference coordinator for Imagine No Malaria.
Charles’s crew headed down US 411, past St. John and toward Seymour with a detour or two along the way including a stop at Logan’s Chapel UMC. Charles walked the last few miles by himself ending at Seymour UMC, a church he once served. As he neared his destination he sent back a picture of Chilhowie Mountain and the Smokies from Black Oak Ridge, adding “the end is in sight!”
For the four folks on bicycles the route probably proved to be a bit more strenuous as they headed from Maryville to the Great Smoky Mountains. One important stop was at Camp Wesley Woods where both Randy and Don were sure to feel at home. There were also stops at Walland UMC, another Pleasant Hill UMC, Tuckaleechee UMC, First UMC in Gatlinburg, Burnett Memorial, Camp Ground and Webb’s Creek UMC. During the final part of the day, the riders stayed close to the Great Smoky Mountains. The two-day, 130-mile long journey ended at a small white church with a bell tower and simple gothic arched windows. Shults Chapel is one of the smallest churches in the district and is nestled on top a small wooded hill. Ending the journey at such a small church serves as a reminder that even small efforts can eventually lead to big changes.
_ By Clayton Hensley
Below are updates from the journey made by Charles Maynard and Randy Pasqua as they crossed the Holston conference area by hiking and biking to raise awareness of Imagine No Malaria.
Almost halfway there – Wednesday, April 24th
Both legs of the “Next Mile” journey are winding down. Spirits are high and God continues guiding everyone toward a world where it is possible to “imagine” a world without malaria.
Randy Pasqua, director of Holston Conference Camp Ministries, and Don Washburn, director of Camp Lookout near Chattanooga, headed out early Wednesday morning on a two-day, 130 mile journey. The day began at Pleasant Hill UMC in Roane County with stops in Sweetwater, Loudon, Friendsville and several other places before arriving around 4:30 at 1st UMC in Maryville.
Day three of District Superintendent Charles Maynard’s journey began at Oakland UMC where Pastor Stephen Yeaney joined him for several miles. (A few weeks ago Stephen got a radical haircut after his congregation raised $2,000 for Imagine No Malaria). Upon crossing into Blount County, Charles said regarding mile marker 0; “two days of walking and I’m only at mile zero.”
Charles made a stop in Fairview to have lunch with Holston Conference Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor and several local pastors. During the stop, the skies began to darken and the thunder started to roll and after the lightning passed it was time to get back on the road. Randy and Don mentioned several encounters with storms along their route, including some tense moments crossing Fort Loudoun Dam.
From Fairview UMC, Charles was joined by Pastor Jerry Russell for the walk to 1st UMC in Maryville. Randy and Don made several stops at churches just outside the city including Middlesettlements and Bungalow UMC.
The highlight of the day came in the evening after the walks and rides had ended. People gathered at 1st UMC Maryville for a special communion service marking World Malaria Day (Thursday). Randy and Charles along with Rev. Asa Majors and Tim Jones. Part of the opening invitation and prayer talked about connections and how on “this day we gather with the conviction, that God is raising us up to make a difference in the lives of so many who are affected by malaria.” _ By Clayton Hensley
Tuesday update: Tim Jones (pastor at Peck’s Memorial UMC) and I traveled down to Madisonville, TN today to meet up with Charles Maynard who is in the third day of his 100-mile journey to raise awareness for Imagine No Malaria. When we found him beside Highway 68, a woman named Katie Hazel was talking to him. She attends First UMC Madisonville and had brought him water, snacks and $10 to save a life! What a way to start the day.
Tim and I took a few pictures and some video then headed into town where we met Rev. Carole Martin. She had some sandwiches and cookies for Charles when he arrived there. It gave him a bit of a break from his walk. He then headed through downtown Madisonville and the second half of the day’s journey. After a stop at Vonore UMC, Charles was set to end the day at Oakland UMC (where the pastor had his head shaved as part of an INM fundraiser).
Randy Pasqua begins his bicycle ride Wednesday morning at Pleasant Hill UMC in Roane County. He’ll be stopping at several churches throughout the day as he makes his way to First UMC-Maryville where he and Charles will both attend a “halfway point” event. Weather is weighing heavily on the minds of both men as thunderstorms are in the forecast.
By Clayton Hensley
Inspiration comes from many places, and during the week of April 21, two men in East Tennessee hope their respective journeys will inspire others to imagine a world without malaria.
Charles Maynard is the Superintendent of the Maryville District in the Holston Conference. The district is just south of Knoxville and brushes up against the high peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains. Randy Pasqua is the director of Conference Camp Ministries. Together, they plan on criss-crossing the district to motivate people to save lives through Imagine No Malaria.
The journeys begin in the mountain community of Ironsburg, a town surrounded by National Forests covering the southern end of the Great Smoky Mountains. Charles Maynard, who is an avid hiker, delivered the sermon at the United Methodist Church there. Following yesterday’s service he began a 100-mile “hike” that will take him to the other side of the district he serves.
“The people in Africa need to be free of the threat of malaria,” Maynard said. “The Next Mile is to encourage the good people of the Maryville District to go the next mile in giving in order to give children in Africa a next mile of life.”
Later in the week, Pasqua will hop on a bicycle near Kingston, TN at Pleasant Hill UMC. From there he will bicycle nearly 130 miles in just two days, ending his journey near the northern end of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“I want to help a few folks learn about the Imagine No Malaria effort who would not know about it otherwise so that they might have the opportunity to enjoy and share the blessing,” said Pasqua.
Both men have been preparing for this special journey for months. Pasqua has been riding as often as the weather and his schedule allow. If he can’t get outside, he’s been riding inside on a trainer. Maynard, who is known throughout the Smokies for his extensive knowledge of area trails, has been walking several miles each day with at least one long hike each week. That training included a 13.5 mile hike up to the Appalachian Trail.
Both Maynard and Pasqua gained inspiration for this endeavor from Matthew 5, verse 41. “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” Pasqua also thinks about how the Prodigal son’s father spoke with his older son, saying “all that I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). Pasqua believes God has already gone the next mile for us and we need to think about that and share the blessings.
Midway through the week Pasqua and Maynard will cross paths in Maryville where they will spend time meeting people who will be gathered for a “half-way point” event at First United Methodist. That night people at First UMC and people across the district will gather for communion in observance of World Malaria Day on Thursday, April 25.
The week long journey ends with a district wide rally at a local park. It will be a time for churches to swap stories, celebrate achievements and pray for the people of Africa that they will get the chance to go “The Next Mile.”
The Maryville District has pledged to save 1,100 lives through Imagine No Malaria, part of the Holston Conference’s goal of saving 100,000 lives. Follow Maynard and Pasqua’s journey at www.imaginenomalaria.org or www.thenextmile.weebly.com, www.facebook.com/thenextmileumc and www.twitter.com/thenextmileumc.
Update: The first day of the Next Mile went well. Maynard walked 17.5 miles with stops at three churches. He preached at Ironsburg UMC at 9:30, then stopped at Tellico Plains UMC for lunch and ended the day with a small worship service at Eleazar UMC. Today (Monday, April 22) , Maynard is in the Tri-Cities for a previously scheduled event. He starts walking again on Tuesday. _ Clayton Hensley
Thank you for praying with us all week and lifting up those who are impacted by malaria. Your prayers help save lives. We ask now that you pray to end malaria and consider making a donation to Imagine No Malaria.
Dear God, we pray for an end to malaria. We ask that you bless the church and its members and all those who work to bring hope to all people who suffer from malaria.
Thank you for the work being done by leaders and members of The United Methodist Church through Imagine No Malaria. Please open the hearts of others to the beauty of compassion and the joy of giving.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.
You are the rock that never fails and we hide in you and in you there is power. Father, lift World Malaria Day with your victorious right hand. Father, we thank you for your eternal love that endures forever.
We thank you for sending your Son Jesus whom you anointed and went about doing good , healing the sick and setting the captives free because you were with Him. Father, accept our thanks in Jesus name for those who work in malaria-infested areas risking their lives in order to save lives.
We pray that you put a complete armor on their bodies souls and spirits. Father, we want to abundantly thank you for inspiring men and women around the world to support this drive to eradicate and eliminate malaria for the common good.
Father, through your energizing power of the Holy Spirit, continue to raise more people who will venture out to save humanity through their services and through their financial resources. We pray for abundant blessings on those men and women who have a burden to help others, to make a difference in their lives.
Father, your word tells us that there is nothing impossible before God. Thank you for the Imagine No Malaria program in which you have energized men and women to execute for the benefit of your children in malaria-infested areas.
We pray that you touch leaders in these malaria-infested areas as they lead they people to receive information that will change individual lives and change communities. Thank you for your power and we stand on the promise that you are Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our Banner who gives us victory in Jesus name. Amen.
Written by the Rev. Dr. Tafadzwa Mudambanuki, who is the Central Conference Director of Communications.