Imagine No Malaria Fundraising Campaign Both Saves and Changes Lives
by Sandra Long Weaver
When The United Methodist Church officially launched Imagine No Malaria in 2010, a child was dying of malaria every 45 seconds in sub-Saharan Africa. Now, less than three years later, the rate of death for children has decreased 25%, with a child dying of malaria every 60 seconds. While this progress is heartening, United Methodists believe that no child or person should perish from a preventable cause.
The reduction in deaths has been possible through a worldwide concerted effort of governmental and nongovernmental organizations, private and public donors, and faith-based organizations such as The United Methodist Imagine No Malaria initiative. The United Methodist contribution “has been possible only because of the incredible generosity of faithful United Methodist Christians, the focused and directive leadership of our bishops, and the hand of God at work in our midst,” said Gary Henderson, executive director of the Global Health Initiative.
Henderson said The United Methodist Church has trained more than 5,400 health-care workers and formed 12 trained health boards representing 16 African countries where there is a United Methodist presence. New churches have been planted where the church’s lifesaving work has been appreciated. More than 1.2 million insecticide-treated nets have been distributed.
“This lifesaving work cannot slow or stop,” Henderson added. As of December 15, 2012, a total of $32.9 million, including $9.3 million in new annual conference pledges, had been raised. By and large, reflected in this number is the determined work of many congregations and volunteers, individuals, and small donors who have pooled their resources together to make a big difference. The goal is to raise $75 million or more by June 2014.
The campaign just received its first $1 million gift from an anonymous donor in the California-Nevada Conference. “This renews our excitement for the potential of many more large gifts that will push us even faster toward the $75 million goal. Our campaign staff is giving particular emphasis to equipping bishops with the tools and skills for reaching major donors,” Henderson said.
Imagine No Malaria provides clear focus for the Global Health Initiative. “Participation in Imagine No Malaria by annual conferences—through local churches, districts, and individuals—grew tremendously last year,” said Bishop Sally Dyck, fundraising chair for the Imagine No Malaria Campaign. “As annual conferences have become engaged in INM, churches have discovered a real connection with younger people and with people who haven’t been involved in other aspects of the church. INM really does bring vitality to Christians and to local churches. Frankly, INM is one of the best things we’re doing as an entire denomination that isn’t focused on ourselves. I think those around us notice that fact.”
In addition to distributing nets and training health-care workers during 2012, Imagine No Malaria gathered more than 100 US participants in December 2012 for Imagine No Malaria Days on the Hill. This advocacy push in Washington, DC, included United Methodist representatives from 30 states and 40 annual conferences. The teams combined to visit 119 offices of both senators and congressional representatives to encourage them to continue to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which is a key partner in the global efforts to reduce malaria.
In Africa, a third health care summit for African health board teams was held in Ghana and attended by more than 40 people. At the summit, the teams worked to design malaria strategies that integrated other kinds of critical health interventions, such as maternal and child health. Field coordinators for Imagine No Malaria are working in US annual conferences to raise awareness of the campaign.
While the gains thus far have been impressive, there is still much more to do to meet the goals of this churchwide initiative. Plans are underway for marking World Malaria
Day on April 25, 2013. An alternative giving initiative is underway for Mother’s Day. And more net distributions are being scheduled for Angola, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Henderson is pleased with the number of US annual conferences that have agreed to join the program in 2013. “We have great support from the Council of Bishops. In addition, United Methodists across the connection are engaged in activities. It is amazing the way in which we touch people’s lives,” he said. “Imagine No Malaria has inspired more people than we can measure or count.”
Imagine No Malaria is an extraordinary ministry of The United Methodist Church that puts faith into action to end preventable deaths by malaria in Africa. With a goal of raising $75 million to improve health infrastructure and empower a sustainable victory over the disease, Imagine No Malaria is our opportunity to rethink how we reach beyond our church and open doors to those who need it most. For more information, please visit us online at www.ImagineNoMalaria.org.
Sandra Long Weaver is the Communications Coordinator for the United Methodist Imagine No Malaria campaign.
Some 30,000 mosquito nets awaited distribution at a storage facility in Lubumbashi, DR Congo, in 2010.
Photo: Mike DuBose/UMNS
INM Campaign pin.
Photo: Jay Mallin /UMNS
Members of The United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria Team gather for a group photo in Bom Jesus, Angola.
Photo: Mike DuBose/UMNS
More People Have Nets—Fewer People Die in Africa
The percentage of households owning at least one insecticide-treated net (ITN) in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to have risen from 3% in 2000 to 53% in 2011. It remained at 53% in 2012.
If the malaria incidence and mortality rates in 2000 had remained unchanged over the decade, 274 million more cases and 1.1 million more deaths would have occurred between 2001 and 2010. The majority of cases averted (52%) and lives saved (58%) are in the 10 countries that had the highest estimated malaria burdens in 2000. Thus, malaria programs have had their greatest impact where the burden is highest.
World Malaria Report 2012 World Health Organization Global Malaria Programme.