United Methodist Charity Seeks to Provide 700,000 Malaria Nets to Congo

A United Methodist charity is looking to provide 700,000 malaria nets to a province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by mid-March.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief is looking to collect and distribute the large number of nets on behalf of residents of Maniema Province. An estimated 3,000 volunteers will be headed to the eastern Congo province next month, reported Julia Kayser Frisbie of UMCOR.

"While one volunteer hangs a net over the sleeping area in each home, the other speaks with the family," wrote Frisbie. "Their key messages: Mosquitoes bearing malaria parasites transmit the disease through their bites."

"Sleeping under a bed net is one of the best ways to stay safe, but insecticide-treated nets must be used correctly and consistently every night in order to prevent malaria."

Frisbie added that their effort is the "first bed net distribution in this area" and that "the local communities are very engaged" in the endeavor.

UMCOR is organizing its effort to distribute 700,000 nets through the United Methodist project "Imagine No Malaria," an organization that seeks to stop malaria from being a major cause of death and suffering in the African continent by 2015.

"Every 60 seconds, malaria claims a life in Africa. Millions of lives, needlessly lost each year. A continent. Entire nations … slipping away," reads a description on INM's website.

"Achieving this goal requires an integrated strategy against the disease. As a life-saving ministry, Imagine No Malaria aims to empower the people of Africa to overcome malaria's burden."

INM works through a "comprehensive model" to achieve its mission, which includes prevention via net distribution, education through local health workers, the operation of over 300 hospitals and other aid stations in the continent.

The United Methodist effort includes contributions from 19 annual UMC conferences and work alongside other nonprofits in the region.

"Working side-by-side with local communities, national departments of health, other nonprofit organizations (like Nets For Life, UNICEF, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) is precisely the way we will beat this disease," states INM.

For their efforts in the Eastern Congo, UMCOR will be working alongside Congo government's "President's Malaria Initiative" program.

"With fiscal year 2013 funding, the President's Malaria Initiative will expand malaria control support not only to the 136 health zones in five provinces currently targeted by the U.S. Agency for International Development, but also to two new health zones in Eastern Kasai and South Kivu, increasing the total supported health zones to 138 in five provinces (West Kasai, East Kasai, South Kivu, Katanga and Orientale Province)," states the PMI online.

According to their website, at present Imagine No Malaria has distributed approximately 1.2 million malaria nets throughout the continent of Africa.

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