Malaria and Faith

November 21, 2008

Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, has been with humans throughout history. Its eradication has been the goal of emperors and governments since Caesar. What is new in this period of our history is our knowledge. We now know malaria’s full, horrible toll: one million deaths per year. We know that the 250 million more who are infected face significant economic, educational, and health setbacks, and that malaria is a serious drag on global development. Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of infection, almost all of them in the developing world.We also know how malaria might be defeated – through a combination of insectide-treated bed nets, anti-malaria medication, and residual insecticide spraying. Recent clinical trials give more hope than ever before for the emergence of an effective vaccine.

Driven by an unprecedented commitment of resources, this knowledge is turning into action. Governments, global institutions, and non-governmental organizations are working to combat malaria and its effects. Faith inspired organizations and communities are an important part of this global effort, particularly in many developing areas where religious organizations are active in providing health services. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Catholic Relief Services, Episcopal Relief and Development, Tearfund, and World Vision are among the largest faith-based organizations involved in the malaria effort.

Various governmental entities have partnered with religious groups to combat malaria. The UN Foundation supports the United Methodist Church and Lutheran World Relief. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is stepping up its effort to engage faith organizations. The U.S. government’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) and the President’s Malaria Initiative have made special efforts to work with faith institutions.The Berkley Center, together with the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) is exploring the roles that faith inspired organizations can and could play in fighting malaria. The Center, in conjunction with the Luce/SFS Program on Religion and International Affairs, is also preparing a report about the engagement of faith-inspired organizations with malaria. On December 12th, 2008, the Berkley Center is partnering with the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty (CIFA) and the World Faiths Development Dialogue, to host a Leadership Consultation on Scaling Up Faith Community Impact on Malaria at Georgetown University. The Consultation will bring together leaders from prominent faith inspired organizations working against malaria, as well as leaders of global funding, coordinating, and research agencies.For information please contact Katherine Marshall, km398@georgetown.edu.
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