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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Faith in the Fight Against Malaria

August 23, 2011

Over the past decade, the story of despair and suffering that once defined malaria has been replaced by one of health and hope. We’re no longer fighting a losing battle. Every day we gain new ground in the effort to prevent and cure the disease, one of the biggest killers of young children in poor and developing countries. In fact, we are working to eliminate malaria in endemic countries by 2015.

The success of the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, launched by President George W. Bush in 2005, and investment in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are transforming families and communities in the world’s poorest countries. In just 10 years, the Global Fund has treated more than 210 million cases of malaria and distributed more than 190 million insecticide-treated nets to protect families from the disease. According to a Roll Back Malaria report (PDF), efforts like these have spared the lives of three-quarters of a million children.

The Global Fund calls on the support and expertise of a diverse array of partners to achieve these remarkable results—and the collaboration of faith-based organizations (FBOs) is especially important. FBOs have a long history of leadership in providing health care worldwide. They form the backbone of care in many countries, and especially in rural areas, they often account for the only health services available.

FBOs are also vital in engaging the hearts and minds of congregants in developed countries, like the United States, to raise awareness and much-needed funds. Both the United Methodist Church, through its Imagine No Malaria initiative, and the Lutheran World Relief and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, through the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, have committed to raise funds to help arm the fight against malaria. Together, they expect to raise as much as $40 million in resources for Global Fund-supported malaria programs in Africa through 2013.

Reaching people where they live, work and worship is as important for supporters as it is for those suffering from this devastating illness. Thanks to the invaluable contributions of faith-based health care providers and donors, we can eliminate this deadly, but preventable, disease.

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