By: Christa Meland
Minnesota has donated more to Imagine No Malaria than any other annual conference, and it’s one of just four conferences that have given more than $1 million to date.
But our work isn’t over yet: We are about $300,000 short of our $2.5 million campaign goal. Minnesota United Methodists are reminded to continue remitting funds so that each church can meet its pledge and do its part to address ongoing malaria prevention and treatment efforts in Africa. The conference’s receipts to date include a $600,000 anonymous gift but do not include pledges or other gifts sent directly to United Methodist Communications, which is managing the Imagine No Malaria campaign for the denomination.
In 2010, the global United Methodist Church launched the campaign, which aims to raise $75 million by 2015 to eliminate malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. When the initiative launched, each conference was given a financial goal; Minnesota’s was $1.8 million—which it promptly exceeded.
Congregations and individuals are encouraged to fulfill their pledges early if possible. The Minnesota Conference aims to meet its pledged goal by May 2014. The 2014 annual conference session will include a celebration of the conference’s strong commitment to the initiative—and the significant support that’s been demonstrated by United Methodists across the state.
Although no other annual conference has given as much as Minnesota, Illinois Great Rivers and Western Pennsylvania have both given more than $2 million. The Southwest Texas and Holston conferences, meanwhile, have each given between $1 million and $2 million.
A recent report from Malawi that has been widely disseminated throughout the United States indicated that mosquitoes are becoming resistant to the insecticide-treated bed nets that are part of Imagine No Malaria’s prevention efforts. But donors can be assured that their support is still saving lives; the campaign’s effort to eliminate malaria deaths and illnesses is multi-pronged and attacks the disease from several angles.
The Imagine No Malaria approach has four components; aside from prevention through bed nets, funds are also being used for treatment, education, and communication. The Imagine No Malaria initiative has trained more than 5,400 community health workers to educate people in Africa about disease prevention, and the United Methodist Church operates more than 300 hospitals, clinics, and health posts throughout Africa where people with the disease can be treated.
The multi-tiered approach is working: Malaria’s death rate is now approximately half of what it was in 2006. Statistics show that a child used to die of malaria every 30 seconds; because of generous support through Imagine No Malaria, the disease now claims a life every 60 seconds.
“Some people say it’s hard to change the world,” says Lyndy Zabel, the Minnesota Conference’s director of missional impact. “But Imagine No Malaria is an example of doing just that . . . one child at a time. A net may not mean seem that much to us, but to the child who needs it, it means everything. It’s a chance to live an abundant life. That’s our business: leading people into the ‘abundant life’ that Jesus talked about—any way we can.”
Despite the progress to date, much work remains to eliminate the disease altogether, which is why fulfilling pledges is critical.
Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transmitted to humans through the bite of the female anopheles mosquito, which flies and feeds at night (hence the reason that bed nets are an effective tool). When an infected mosquito bites a person, the parasite enters the bloodstream and heads for the liver, where it multiplies. Then, it re-enters the bloodstream, attacking red blood cells and destroying them from the inside-out. This infection causes severe symptoms. Someone with malaria typically experiences a high fever, chills, joint pain, and a terrible headache. Left untreated, symptoms advance to convulsions, vomiting, organ failure, and, ultimately, death.
Nearly 90 percent of malaria’s victims are children under the age of 5 and pregnant women.
To learn more, visit imaginenomalaria.org.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church