By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
An Anglican anti-malaria activist from Central Africa has said that the Anglican Church in the region has the power and influence to combat malaria in the region due to its consistent presence across national borders.
In an interview with ACNS, the Regional Co-ordinator for the Isdell: Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative, which works in partnership with the Anglican Church and other key, local stakeholders, Mrs Constance Njovu said, “the church should utilise its unique position by continuing to educate people on the dangers of malaria.”
“Its presence across national borders means that the Anglican Church has a chance to influence change especially in the fight against malaria,” she said. “The Church needs to take this opportunity and put it to good use because it’s time to act.”
She said that Zambia in particular has made a lot of progress in the fight against malaria but added, “There is need for more resources and continued commitment from all stakeholders in the fight against the disease.”
She explained that Church could also make use of the expertise of its members and existing Church structures across the region to address the many problems that Africa faces including malaria.
Co-Founder of the Isdell: Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative, Mr. Neville Isdell feared that there despite the “impressive efforts worldwide in the fight against malaria, there is still a long way to go in the fight against the disease.”
Mr. Isdell explained that some people may be thinking that malaria is under control and hence cutting down on help and funding but warned, “There is a severe risk in doing so.”
“There is need to continue with all the existing efforts otherwise the incidences of malaria can rise rapidly again,” he said. “The eradication of malaria is possible but there is need to keep the pressure on and continue with the follow-ups.”
Susan Lassen is the Executive Director of the J.C Flowers Foundation and works closely with the Isdell: Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative. She was particularly impressed with the role that the Anglican Church in the region continues to play in fighting malaria.
“The Anglican Church has the unique characteristic of being present in the most remote communities and is usually trusted to stay with the community in the fight against diseases such as malaria, which require consistency and long-standing commitment,” she said.
“The Church has indeed achieved extraordinary results in mobilising, training and distributing of knowledge and as well as treated mosquito nets, and has been consistent in the fight against malaria.”
UNICEF reports that though Zambia has made progress in malaria prevention and control in the last five years, it still kills more children under the age of five than any other disease or illness.
The Isdell: Flowers Cross Border Malaria Elimination Initiative was founded by Neville Isdell and Christopher Flowers both of whom have been in the region many times and seen the devastating effects of the disease.
The programme is committed to the elimination of the deadly disease through its community based malaria programs targeting the cross border areas of Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe.