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May 23, 2012 | Episcopal Relief & Development

Faith-Based Organizations Partner to Fight Malaria

The relief and development agencies of two mainline Protestant denominations are forming a new strategic partnership to prevent and control malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.  By uniting in common mission, Episcopal Relief & Development’s award-winning NetsforLife® program partnership and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will be able to reach 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa where malaria is endemic.


“The goal of this partnership is to decrease sickness and death due to malaria, build local organizations’ capacity to mobilize their communities against this disease, and strengthen connections across faith denominations, sectors and countries in order to share knowledge and develop best practices,” said Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development. “The strength of our NetsforLife® program and UMCOR is that we both work with churches and other grassroots institutions to fill gaps in health service coverage – mostly in rural areas – and develop solutions that fit the context and challenges of each locality.”


The partnership began informally in 2010, when NetsforLife® and UMCOR began working together to amplify United Methodist and Anglican/Episcopal anti-malaria efforts in Africa. It has been particularly effective in areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. 


“The root of our partnership is a shared belief in the strength of African churches to take action, empower local communities to become whole and healthy, change behavior and target resources for greater reach and impact,” Radtke said.  “This precedent-setting partnership affirms the importance of the global community in sustaining the gains, momentum and resources toward eradicating malaria.”


In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the relationship led to the successful mobilization of communities through a public launch event hosted by South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka. The event was followed by a door-to-door distribution of 30,000 nets and the founding of CORESA, a groundbreaking faith-based coalition to promote health.


Shannon Trilli, director of UMCOR’s Global Health Initiative, said, “There is still much to be done in our malaria prevention work, especially at the community and village level. By joining UMCOR’s resources and expertise in developing health-care infrastructure and communications to the NetsforLife® programming, monitoring and evaluation approach, we can strengthen and deepen our impact.”


Recently, NetsforLife® and UMCOR aligned their work with the National Integrated Maternal and Child Health Campaign in Sierra Leone, where approximately 400,000 nets were distributed and more than 3,800 volunteers were trained. Aimed at achieving universal coverage of the population at risk of contracting malaria, this cooperative push was the largest health effort in the country’s history.


To sustain and grow this life-saving work, both NetsforLife® and UMCOR are raising funds through grassroots campaigns in churches, schools, seminaries and other institutions.


In the Episcopal Church, the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund is educating, engaging, and uniting Episcopalians to support Millennium Development Goals and the fight against malaria. The goal of the campaign is to build awareness about this disease and how it can be prevented. It also aims to raise $5 million by December 2012 to help NetsforLife® continue its work, training local volunteers to deliver life-saving nets, educate community members about proper net use and maintenance, and provide ongoing monitoring and evaluation of net use. Episcopal Relief & Development has managed NetsforLife® since 2006, and has helped the program expand from 8 to 17 countries.


Imagine No Malaria is an effort of The United Methodist Church (UMC) to eliminate death and suffering caused by malaria in Africa by 2015. The UMC is a founding partner of the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign, which works through Imagine No Malaria and focuses on improving health infrastructure and empowering communities for a sustainable victory over the disease. 


Visit for more information about NetsforLife® and the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund. Donations can also be made by calling 1.855.312.HEAL (4325) or mailing gifts to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058. Please put “NetsforLife/Malaria” in the memo line of all checks.