The United Methodist Church will officially launch on Sunday its $75 million initiative to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa as people around the world mark the third annual World Malaria Day.
"United Methodists are taking on the fight against malaria in a big way, and we're excited about the potential impact of this effort," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications, in an announcement of Sunday's launch of the "Imagine No Malaria" initiative.
"Malaria is preventable and treatable. It's a fight we can win if we all work together," he added.
Although the incidence of malaria has been dropping over recent years, the disease still claims approximately 860,000 lives each year, mainly women and children in Africa.
Each day, the disease kills more than 2,000 children under age five, making it a leading cause of death for young children in Africa and other regions. The disease, however, can be prevented and treated with inexpensive, proven interventions such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets and access to anti-malarial drugs.
Unfortunately, the less than $2 billion now committed annually is said to represent only a third of the global need.
To help meet the needs, The United Methodist Church will be launching its "Imagine No Malaria" initiative, which will aims to raise $75 million to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.
The denomination is also seeking to raise awareness over the weekend through the more than 900 events that will be held in 16 countries.
According to a spokesperson for the church body, many congregations are scheduling a community-based work day Saturday and focusing on World Malaria Day in Sunday worship.
A special offering will be taken at many to support the fight against malaria.
In Austin, Texas, The United Methodist Church will officially mark the launch of "Imagine No More" with a free three-hour concert on the south steps of the State Capitol.
Headlining the festivities – which will feature the concert, family activities, and food from local restaurants – will be Christian rock band Jars of Clay.
Also performing will be local musicians including Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township, the Huston-Tillotson College Choir.
The entire event will be broadcast live via streaming video on the Imagine No Malaria Web site at www.ImagineNoMalaria.org.