Day one of the Time Summit on Global Health
was a whirlwind of information.
The first day of the Time Summit on Global Health was a whirlwind of information about malaria, how to prevent it and how to treat those infected with it. The United Methodist Church was featured in the first press conference of the Summit. The announcement of a community-based malaria program was made by R. Randy Day, General Secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and U.S. Senator Sam Brownback were featured in an after-dinner conversation in which both agreed that a dialogue between left and right accompanied with action to end human suffering, such as malaria, is necessary today.
Pastor Rick Warren, author of A Purpose Driven Life, spoke of the need for all people of faith and goodwill to unite in halting diseases for which prevention and cure is possible.
Dr. Paul Farmer, noted for his community-based health care in Haiti and Rwanda, said many of the tools needed to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB are available and effective. He called for a concerted effort to defeat poverty which contributes to death by treatable diseases.
The PBS series RX for Survival was premiered. The six-part series documents successes in treating diseases by profiling effective public health outreach in different places around the globe. But Philip Hilts, in a companion book, writes that the “tide has begun to turn against us in the fight against deadly diseases and the promotion of general health and longevity.” As a result, Hilts writes that we face a crucial moment in history as diseases have begun to roar back after having been contained for many years. RX For Survival offers models of successful programs that are making a difference in reaching large numbers of people to prevent disease.
United Methodist Church to Begin New Malaria Initiative in Sierra Leone;
Program Gives U.S. Congregations Opportunities to Save Lives in Africa
NEW YORK ? The United Methodist Church today unveiled a new community-based initiative that will connect U.S. churches with the African congregations fighting malaria.
Key church leaders outlined the new ministry during the opening day of the Time Global Health Summit in New York City.
?Malaria is not an Africa problem, it is a world problem,? said the Rev. R. Randy Day, general secretary of the denomination?s General Board of Global Ministries. ?We believe Americans have a moral responsibility, and through this ministry, new opportunities to fight malaria and save lives.?
The initiative will begin in Sierra Leone, West Africa, in early December, Day said. It will use existing church health facilities for a comprehensive locally focused malaria education, prevention and treatment program. The denomination?s plan is to create similar programs in Liberia, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Joining Day was Bishop Joo Machado, leader of The United Methodist Church in Mozambique. ?When I travel throughout my country, I see the babies dying. It makes me very sad to know these babies do not have to die,? said Machado, who lives with the disease.
Day said every church in the United States has an opportunity to connect with churches, first in Sierra Leone, and soon in other countries, including Mozambique, to provide insecticide-treated bed nets, solar and hand-powered radios, anti-malarial medicine and tools for controlling mosquitoes.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone has the infrastructure ? health clinics, schools, church buildings ? to provide a readymade backbone for the initiative, Day said. The denomination?s roots in the country trace back to 1855.
?The startup costs are surprisingly small ? about $350,000 for Sierra Leone. That includes staff, drugs, equipment and health education,? Day said. ?We are looking for churches, individuals and other organizations in the U.S. to partner with us.?
Day said the insecticide treated bed nets cost about $5 apiece. Radios that use solar or hand cranked power cost about $30. A community based radio station ? which will be an effective tool to communicate in rural areas ? comes in a kit costing about $18,000.
Machado said the situation in Mozambique, where the life expectancy is 41 for women and 40 for men, reflects the conditions in many African countries where more than 700,000 children die every year from malaria.
?We need radio stations and radios to educate the people. We need drugs to treat people who have the disease. We need drugs for people who are most at risk of getting malaria. And we need help to deal with the mosquitoes that infect the people.? Machado said.
?With these tools, we will be able to educate our own people, and save lives,? Machado said.
The Time Global Health Summit is convening leaders in medicine, government, business, public policy, religion and the arts to develop actions and solutions to health crises. It is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.