By Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Asst. to the Bishop
No one likes being bitten by a mosquito yet these pests go hand in hand with summer picnics, a walk in the woods and evenings in the yard. All summer I’ve been battling the dreaded mosquito bite. They are a nuisance for most, but can be deadly for others. In the Midwest our fear is West Nile Virus. West Nile, transmitted by a mosquito bite, has been in the news this summer as several people in the northern Illinois area fell victim to this mosquito born disease. Thankfully, our communities work to keep the mosquito population under control and our medical community is equipped to diagnose and treat West Nile virus. We have a well-coordinated infrastructure looking out for our well-being.
One mosquito born disease we never worry about in the United States is malaria because in the 1950s malaria was completely eradicated in our country. Other counties especially Sub-Saharan Africa have not been as fortunate. In 2007 there were 1 million fatalities from malaria in Africa. The World Health Organization declared war on this preventable, treatable disease and in 2012, through the concerted efforts of prevention, treatment and education, the annual death toll was 627,000 an almost 50 % increase in lives saved!
The United Methodist Church has been front and center in this effort. Making a bold commitment to raise $75 million dollars, we have reached $66 million or 88% of the goal. In addition The United Methodist Church’s network of hospitals and clinics
already in operation in affected areas has helped to strengthen an infrastructure with 2,300,000 bed nets distributed, radio messages delivering lifesaving information about malaria, 300 plus United Methodist operated clinics equipped to deal with the disease and 11,600 health workers teaching prevention door to door across several countries.
It was a joyful day at Annual Conference in June when we celebrated $1 million dollars raised
through churches and individual
gifts for Imagine No Malaria in Northern Illinois
. As of August 1, we raised over $1,050,000 for Imagine No Malaria. As churches and individuals fulfill their pledges we are on track to reach $1.4 million dollars. $1,000 saves 100 children. We can make a difference in the world by fulfilling our pledges and continuing to give as The United Methodist Church stretches to the full goal of $75 million dollars.
This summer there were garage sales, fairs, community dinners, runs, walks, church offerings, Vacation Bible Schools and more all focused on raising gifts for this world alerting cause. With your help we can reach our full commitment and go beyond. As the weather turns cooler those pesky little mosquitoes will die out in our area, the swatting and biting will stop, forgotten until the warm days of summer re-emerge next year. In Africa the weather doesn’t help, the biting continues, the fear of disease is real.
Help the global church, help others to have the gift of freedom from the fear of malaria. For more info about the campaign and the work being done through Imagine No Malaria go to www.imaginenomalaria.org