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Apr 25, 2011

Changing the Fight Against Ever-Changing Malaria

[Episcopal News Service – Accra, Ghana] An image gallery is available here. A video story about the NetsforLife® program in Ghana is available here


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Ordinary people can do extraordinary things.


That belief lies at the foundation of NetsforLife®'s philosophy which, in the last nearly five years, has changed the way many nations and health organizations combat malaria. The Episcopal Relief & Development-sponsored partnership's combination of net distribution with community education and organizing to foster a "net culture" among recipients also changes the communities themselves.

Still, on the April 25 commemoration of the fourth World Malaria Day, much work remains.


"This is not time to rest on our laurels," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and Episcopal Relief & Development President Robert Radtke said in a statement to mark the occasion.


Indeed, the World Health Organizationrecently described what it called the "fragility of malaria control and the need to maintain control programs even if numbers of cases have been reduced substantially."


NetsforLife®'s statistical achievements alone are impressive. The program has distributed 6.3 million nets (far ahead of its planned pace), trained more than 43,000 volunteer malaria control agents and directly or indirectly reached more than 35 million Africans in 17 sub-Saharan countries.


In its first phase, NetsforLife® distributed 1.5 million nets between June 2006 and September 2008. That was 500,000 more than its goal. In Phase II, which began in October 2008 and is planned to run through 2013, 4.8 million nets have been handed out thus far. At this pace, the program stands to meet its Phase II goal of distributing seven million nets two full years ahead of schedule.


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