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Malaria-fighting partnership all about nets

 

Community members follow proceedings from the shelter of a makeshift tent.

CHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe (UMNS)— Bishop Scott Jones will attempt 1,000 free throws on Feb. 23 for “Shoot for No Malaria,” a fundraising venture for the Great Plains Episcopal Area, which encompasses the Kansas East and West and Nebraska annual (regional) conferences). The endeavor was sparked by the partnership between the U.S. conferences and the Zimbabwe East Conference. 

A ceremony Dec. 11 in the Biriiri rural area east of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, celebrated the launch of Phase 2 of the United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria campaign. 

Jones told the group he will attempt to shoot 1,000 free throws for Shoot For No Malaria.” As part of a month long effort in the Great Plains Conference, on Feb. 23, Bishop Scott Jones will attempt 1,000 free throws to raise money for Imagine No Malaria. You can help him by making a donation of $10 and guessing how many free throws he will make. The bishop will give five nets in honor of the individual or individuals who guess the right number. All the funds will go to Imagine No Malaria. The three highest donors from each conference, and the individual or individuals who guess the number of free throws the bishop makes, will be recognized at their respective annual conference sessions in May and June.



“God works His will through people like you and me, and when we work together we make God happy,” Jones told some 300 gathered at Biriiri District Hospital. The health center is the main treatment facility in the area where Imagine No Malaria will distribute 22,000 nets next month. 

 

Zimbabwe East Annual Conference Layleader Simon Mafunda translates Rev. Gary Henderson’s speech. UMNS photos by Jay Rollins

 

The Rev. Gary Henderson, executive director for Global Health Initiatives for United Methodist Communications, said the church is committed to the preservation of life and had involved its 12 million members in fighting malaria.  

“We believe malaria has to be eradicated. We are here to celebrate the work done and take home with us more motivation to raise more resources,” Henderson said. 

District Administrator Wilson Bore of the Zimbabwean government said his country appreciated the assistance from The United Methodist Church through the United Methodist Committee on Relief, which has adopted a multipronged approach in the fight against malaria. UMCOR has distributed long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, which last for five years, and has trained village health workers to educate the community on how to maintain their homes to reduce breeding grounds for the mosquito larvae. 

“At times, government fails to cope, and we need friends like you because sick people are not productive. The sick cannot fend for their families or help develop the country, and it hurts us when people die as we can treat malaria. Let’s all fight malaria head-on,” said Bore. 

Malaria is a major public health problem. Fifty percent of the people in Zimbabwe are at risk of developing malaria, Dr. Moleen Matimbira of The United Methodist Church’s Mutambara Mission told the gathering. 

“Over 14,600 cases are diagnosed and treated annually in Chimanimani District, with children under 5 years, the chronically ill, pregnant women and the elderly being the most vulnerable to the disease,” she said. 

Malaria transmission starts in November, reaches its peak in February and ends in May. Dr Matimbira said the good news is that malaria is preventable and treatable. 

The government annually managed to spray 10 administrative wards out of the 23 in Chimanimani District with an insecticide that kills mosquitoes for up to six months. Matimbira said ideally 15 of the wards most prone to malaria have to be sprayed to fight the disease. 

The head of traditional leaders in Biriiri, Chief Muusha, said he believed it was possible to win the fight against malaria. 

“We believe we will conquer malaria; each person must police the use of the mosquito nets and not leave the responsibility to the chief alone,” he said. He urged the community to use the nets properly and for their intended purpose. 

Chief Muusha drew laughter from the crowd when he said he was not afraid of dealing with those who misused their nets: “I am not afraid, even of those who use witchcraft.  The mosquito itself is a great witch,” he said. 

The United Methodist Church has pledged its long-term commitment in the fight against malaria, and the church believes in the power of partnerships. District Superintendent Joseph Bonga said while Zimbabweans may not be able to afford resources such as nets and insecticides, the nation would help itself through awareness programs and maintaining hygiene around homes. 

Women from Mubatanidzwa we Madzimai, the local ecumenical union of denominations including The United Methodist Church and United Baptist Church, donated 24 pairs of bedsheets for use by patients at Biriiri District Hospital. 

In a display of unity by the community, traditional leaders, churches and the government, all stakeholders were in attendance and were treated to music by The United Methodist Church’s men’s choir and educational dramas performed by local groups.   

Chikwanah is a communicator in the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference. 

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn. (615) 742-5470.
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