The Bishops of Angola, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe took part in recent World Malaria Day events along the shared borders between the four countries. As Southern African countries move closer to malaria elimination, increased community and church involvement is needed to identify and treat every last case of malaria, and to provide trusted malaria education on how the disease is spread and how to prevent it. Ministers of Health emphasised the important role of the Anglican Church in ending malaria for good.
Communities along the border areas of Angola, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are hard to reach and often lack access to the basic health services available in more developed areas. The Anglican Church, located in some of the most remote areas, helps to fill this gap by providing cadres of community malaria volunteers. Church volunteers are already trusted by their community members and are therefore effective in encouraging behaviour change to prevent malaria.
During World Malaria Day activities on the Angola-Namibia border, the Namibian Minister of Health, Dr. Haufiku, and Angola’s Minister of Health, Dr. Sambo, emphasised the need to work in the community and with the community, from house to house. These messages re-enforce the community-based model employed by the Anglican Church, and recognise the work currently conducted by church volunteers.
On the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, Ministers of Health from the two countries joined together to announce a historic partnership to eliminate malaria. The signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) paves the way for coordinated prevention and education activities on either side of the border – work already being championed by the Anglican Church at grassroots level.
Bishop David Njovu of the Anglican Diocese of Lusaka, nicknamed the “Malaria Bishop” for his commitment to malaria elimination, was in attendance during the day’s events: “It was very encouraging to hear the Ministers of Health from Zambia and Zimbabwe recognise our important role as Anglicans in the fight against malaria,” he said. “Today served as a reminder of how we can make a real difference in the lives of so many within our communities.”