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    Make Malaria History

    Jump-starting Malaria Work in Uganda!

    Posted on April 29, 2013 by jessicanipp
    Lucy, of katakwi District in Uganda, struggles to take care of her four children when she is sick with malaria.

    Lucy Akiding, of Katakwi District in Uganda, struggles to provide for her four children when she is sick with malaria.

    “Rarely a week goes by when one of my children is not fainting, so maybe every two weeks someone has malaria,” says Lucy Akiding, a 23-year-old mother of four in Uganda.  Parenting becomes very complicated when children are often sick.  And for Lucy, malaria interferes with her own ability to run her household as well. “When I have [malaria], that is a week when I cannot do my garden work,” she explains. 

    In a household where subsistence farming is the primary (or only) form of nutrition and income generation, malaria’s effects are devastating. (Read more here!)

    Malaria is an urgent health problem in the Katakwi District of Uganda, one of the poorest areas of Uganda.  In an area where half of the population survives on less than $0.80 per day, community members cannot afford malaria prevention supplies or proper health care when they or their children get sick. The ELCA-supported malaria program in Katakwi will make a huge difference.

    This past week, the ELCA Malaria Campaign has celebrated “World Malaria Week,” asking members and congregations of the ELCA to donate to support the efforts of the Lutheran World Federation malaria project in Katakwi, Uganda.

    A generous matching challenge is doubling all gifts given this week (up to $130,000). We don’t have final numbers yet, because the gifts continue to pour in, but we are confident that your generosity is up to the challenge of raising $250,000 this week to jump-start malaria prgoramming in Katakwi, Uganda.

    Our sincere thanks to all of you who have supported World Malaria Week, and who will continue to support the ELCA Malaria Campaign next week, and next month, and next year! Together with our companions in Africa, we are making a difference in the lives of people like Lucy and her family.

    It’s World Malaria Day tomorrow!

    Posted on April 24, 2013 by jessicanipp

    Invest in the future–defeat malaria!  That’s the theme for World Malaria Day 2013, which is celebrated worldwide on April 25.  

    LUCSA malariaOur Lutheran sisters and brothers in Southern Africa have put together some great resources for World Malaria Day. You can access these resources on the LUCSA web site.  LUCSA–the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa–is a sub-regional expression of the Lutheran World Federation.  LUCSA is operating ELCA-funded malaria prgorams in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  (The ELCA is funding malaria progams in six other African countries as well.)

    On the LUCSA web site you’ll find two great infographics that measure the impact of malaria programs in the Southern Africa region in the past decade, statistics such as:

    • The percentage of households in sub-Saharan Africa owning at least one insecticide-treated net has risen from 3% in 2000 to 50% in 2011.
    • The proportion of suspected malaria cases that receive rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) in public health facilities has risen from 2% in 2000 to 45% in 2011.   Greater access to RDTs means more lives are saved!

      Lucas2

      Lucas Owuor-Omondi

    You’ll also be able to view a World Malaria Day video message from Lucas Owuor-Omondi, the Regional Malaria Program Coordinator in Southern Africa.  Lucas says,

    “Malaria has been around since the dawn of humankind, and continues to ravage the lives of millions of people around the world. Combined with HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases, malaria forms a destructive alliance that brings pain and suffering to much of the developing world.  LUCSA and its partners, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, are walking hand in hand to help communities build a holistic approach to respond to this disease.”

    It’s a 4-minute video, and I encourage you to watch all of it here (scroll down to find the video) and share it with your friends!

     

     

    Creative Engineering (The Lutheran Malaria Program in Zambia)

    Posted on April 22, 2013 by jessicanipp
    Zambia MJ homemade toy

    Photo: Matt Jeppsen

    During my visit in Northwest Zambia, I was struck by the ingenuity of the people in the Zambezi, Dipalata and Nyakulenga communities. Out of the few available material resources, community members had devised the tools and instruments they needed to farm their fields, cook meals, shelter their families and celebrate joyfully. The areas I visited had a high prevalence of poverty and disease, but an equally high prevalence of inventors and skilled workers who were up to the challenge of caring for their households and their communities.

    Living in an urban area in the United States, I take for granted the vast multitude of resources available to me at the click of a mouse or with a short trip (in my own car, down paved roads) to the warehouse store down the road. Just about anything I need, I can purchase—manufactured, assembled and usually even automated.  In the rural communities I visited, the internet and department stores were out of reach, and so people found the answers within themselves.

    Read the rest of Jessica’s reflections here.

    Making a Difference in Kashima

    Posted on April 20, 2013 by jessicanipp
    Abel Makungwe

    Abel Makungwe (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    Abel Makungwe, Project Coordinator of the Lutheran Malaria Program in Zambia, provided this snapshot of the impact the malaria program has had in a town called Kashima in Northwest Zambia.

    In the community of Kashima, we used to have a high rate of maternal mortality. This was caused because women did not want to attend pre-natal care at the clinic; they would want to go to traditional leaders instead, and use their traditional remedies to heal. But it was discovered that the more they were going to these traditional healers, the more they were dying. Then the Lutheran Malaria Program moved into Kashima.  We started working with the Kashima Rural Health Center, working with the women there. We started in the church, and then from the church we rolled it out to the communities and worked with the traditional leaders in the area.

    The women's ward of the Kashima Rural Health Center in Zambia is prepared with mosquito nets.

    The women’s ward of the Kashima Rural Health Center in Zambia is prepared with mosquito nets.

    And the maternal mortality at Kashima Rural Health Center has really reduced tremendously—last year, they recorded zero mortality on the maternity [ward]. We have seen this success because of the preventive measure – we call it IPTp, which is Intermittent Presumptive Therapy [for Pregnant women]. This is a program where pregnant women are given three doses of Fansidar as a preventive measure.  They get these doses when they are pregnant: three months pregnant, six months, and then as they are going towards the expected delivery date.

    Recently there was one family in Kashima  that was hit very hard with malaria. They would take their children to the clinic almost every week.  And then they resorted to going to traditional healers. One week, one of the kids would be down with malaria.  They would take him or her to the traditional healer, and then the following week another child would be sick. When the Lutheran Malaria Program came, we started sensitizing this family, and giving them the education about malaria.  We advised them to go to the health facility.

    As a family, the whole household was taken to the Kashima Health Center, where they were tested for malaria.  And fortunately enough, or unfortunately enough, about five of their household members were positive for malaria. They were put on malaria treatment and they got well. From that day until now, they have not experienced any serious malaria cases in their home. And on the issue of income—they are no longer spending as much money as they used to spend on treatment, and give to these traditional healers. They are healthy now.

    The Kashima Rural Health Center in Zambia provides excellent malaria care and prevention.

    The Kashima Rural Health Center in Zambia provides excellent malaria care and prevention.

    Combating the Malaria/HIV and AIDS “Alliance of Destruction” in Malawi

    Posted on April 19, 2013 by jessicanipp
    Mphatso Thole (R), communicator for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi, and John Bvumbwe (L), malaria focal person in a community near Nkhotakota, Malawi. Photo: Anders Uhl

    Mphatso Thole (R), communicator for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi, and John Bvumbwe (L), malaria focal person in a community near Nkhotakota, Malawi.

    Mphasto Thole is the Communicator for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi (ELCM).  Last month, Mphatso and his colleagues welcomed two delegations from the ELCA.  They hosted a visit from Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, and they also hosted a delegation of staff and volunteers from the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

    Recently the ELCM published a news release about Bishop Hanson’s visit.  Mphatso writes,

    In Alex Perry’s book Lifeblood: How to change the world, one dead mosquito at a time (2011)  the author pointed out that the word Mal`aria was coined in the year 1574, Italian for ‘bad air’, after the foul swamp vapours originally thought to carry it.  In 2013, however, Bishop Bvumbwe of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi has his own definition: malaria is a disease transmitted by a mosquito and has made an alliance with HIV and AIDS to kill people. While both definitions deliver a point, this article unpacks the second definition by taking readers on board to know what is happening in Nkhotakota and Salima, the districts that enjoy the breeze of Lake Malawi while people who sleep without bed nets 365 days a year, suffer because of the mosquito bites and the disease they transmit.

    You can read the whole article here.

    Celebrating a successful congregational campaign

    Posted on April 18, 2013 by jessicanipp

    Many thanks to Dick and Bev Moody, members of our National Leadership Team, for their leadership on the Malaria Team at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Prospect Heights, IL, and for sharing this article with us! And many thanks to the members of Good Shepherd for their generous support!

    An infestation at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Prospect Heights, IL.

    An infestation at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Prospect Heights, IL.

    A mosquito infestation occurred during Lent in our congregation!  350 paper mosquitos were hung from the ceilings throughout the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Prospect Heights, Illinois.

    In an area of the nave was a likeness of child’s room with a mosquito net hanging over the bed. These visuals got the attention of members as they committed to a Lenten Mission Project to raise funds for the ELCA Malaria Campaign. The goal was to raise $5,000 within three years to help fight malaria in Africa. Our Good Shepherd Malaria Team suggested that if every giving unit in our congregation gave $15 per year for three years, we would reach our goal.  So for every $15 donated, a mosquito was removed.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Pastor Eric Schlichting shows his support for the ELCA Malaria Campaign

    It was surprising how quickly the mosquitos came down. Each week, the Swat-o-Meter in the Narthex reported the campaign income and the number of mosquitos removed.  In the photo at right, Pastor Eric Schlichting is checking out the progress.

    Generous offerings designated to malaria were given at the mid-week Lenten suppers and from various other events. Sunday worshipers heard stories and received information on how the ELCA is working with Lutheran churches and communities in eleven countries in Africa to treat, educate, and prevent this disease. Campaign response cards were mailed to church members midway through the 40 days of Lent. Donations and pledges to the campaign flowed in from individuals and families.

    As we celebrated Easter, the Good Shepherd Lenten Mission Project concluded with a fabulous outcome of over $6,600 raised in cash and pledges for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.  Alleluia!

    Other congregations are encouraged to do a similar 4 to 6 week campaign using the excellent resources that can be found at www.elca.org/malaria where the ELCA Malaria Campaign Action Kit, brochures, bulletin inserts and new coutry profiles are available.  Other suggestions are to plan a shorter fund- raising campaign around the time of World Malaria Day on April 25 or during vacation Bible school.

    Molding bricks, shaping the future

    Posted on April 17, 2013 by jessicanipp
    Headman Kanema of Mununji village in Northwest Zambia

    Headman Kanema of Mununji village in Northwest Zambia (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    A few weeks ago, I had the honor of visiting a malaria program site in Dipalata, Northwest Zambia.  I think that one of the keys to the success of the Lutheran Malaria Program in the Dipalata area is the huge amount of collaboration between the malaria program, the congregations, the community and the government in that area.  Every key stakeholder is involved in the project.  

    For example, in Dipalata, the ELCA delegation was welcomed in the Lutheran church by church and community leaders—including bishops, pastors, a tribal headman and a ward councilor.   Headman Kanema of Mununji village in Dipalata said “This program has been a success in this area.  Before the program began, most of the people were not aware that malaria is a killer disease—especially for pregnant women.  They weren’t aware that malaria can cause her to be unable to deliver a live baby.  But now they are aware of the dangers that malaria poses to babies and pregnant women. They learned this during our awareness and sensitization activities.” 

    Zambia MJ Ward Councilman Mununji

    Ward Councilor Venus Katolusu, Dipalata, Zambia (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    The local political leader, Venus Katolusu, welcomed us warmly to Dipalata. “As the ward councilor of Dipalata, I am very thankful for the development that is happening here in Mununji, and for the malaria program,” Councilor Katolusu said.   

    He also lifted up a great example of the collaborative relationship that is at the heart of malaria work in Northwest Zambia—the proposed construction of a health post in Dipalata.  A new health post (a small brick building) would create a physical space to house programming that has already begun to make an impact in the Dipalata community.  Through the Lutheran Malaria Program, regular open clinics have been held to provide the community with malaria education, rapid diagnostic testing, and malaria medication for those who test positive. A building could bring permanence to the intermittent program, and a safe storage space for diagnostic kits, medication and equipment.

    The community of Dipalata, the Lutheran Malaria program and the Zambian government would each have a key role to play in the proposed project.  Members of the Dipalata community would mold the bricks to shape the walls, and provide stone and sand for mortar.  The Lutheran Malaria Program in Zambia would provide windows and doors.  And the Zambian government would supply architectural and strategic plans, to ensure that the new health post would be built according to government standards.

    Zambia MJ bricks 2

    The community of Dipalata has molded bricks in anticipation of the construction of a local health post. (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    The community of Dipalata is very excited about the proposed new health post.  In fact, community members have already completed their tasks, molding bricks and gathering materials for mortar. Headman Kanema says, “We have molded our bricks, and our local contribution is ready.  And we want to see that a health post is built here.  That will help us deal with illnesses like malaria, and it will also enable our future leaders to have good health so that they are able to lead us.”

    Councilor Katolusu lauded the community for their contribution, and for their strong grounding in malaria knowledge: “I would like to thank the community for Dipalata for their contribution [to the construction of the health post].  They have made this effort because they know that malaria is a killer disease. That’s why they have worked so hard to mold their bricks, and to collect the sand and the stones—because they know the effect that malaria can have on their health.” 

    On behalf of the citizens of Dipalata, he thanked the Lutheran Malaria Program in Zambia—and the donors to the ELCA Malaria Campaign who support its work. “As local people, we will not disappoint you, because the things that you are bringing are of great benefit to us. Now as local people we are working with all our strength, so that whatever is supplemented to us, we will take care of it.  We will be accountable to those gifts, so they will be of great benefit to all of us.”

    Zambia MJ bricks

    (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    The answer… was awaiting me in Zambia

    Posted on April 15, 2013 by jessicanipp
    Cropped plane Jan

    Jan Dennis (R) and I prepare for our flight to Zambezi. (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    Jan Dennis, an ELCA member from Jacksonville, Florida, recently participated in an ELCA delegation to Southern Africa.  In Zambia, she met with staff and volunteers who run the Lutheran Malaria Program there, which is funded by the ELCA Malaria Campaign. Jan traveled to rural Northwest Zambia to visit some malaria projects in action.  Her reflections begin:

    “I was blessed to be part of the team from the ELCA Malaria Campaign that traveled to Zambia. 

    “It is not easy to leave all the comforts of home and step out into the unknown.  My husband Jim and I had made a financial pledge to the campaign.  We believed strongly in the mission of the Malaria Campaign to raise funds to eliminate deaths from malaria. What more would I gain by a long trip to Africa? I was already on board with the whole project.

    “The answer to this question was awaiting me in Zambia.”

    You can download Jan’s wonderful reflections in their entirety here.

    Behind the scenes: the Lutheran Malaria Program in Zambia

    Posted on April 13, 2013 by jessicanipp
    ELCA Missionary Pastor Arden Strasser works with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia.

    ELCA Missionary Pastor Arden Strasser works with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia. (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    Many thanks to the Rev. Arden Strasser, an ELCA Missionary serving with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia, for this interview.  Arden works primarily with leadership development, and is very familiar with the work of the Lutheran Malaria Prpgram in Zambia.

    ELCA Malaria Campaign: Tell us about the logistics of the Lutheran Malaria Program in Zambia.  Take us behind the scenes.

    Arden Strasser: In order to run a program, you need people and resources and communications. Zambia is a big country, and the Lutheran congregations are far apart. And the congregations and communities that are served are far from urban centers.  So a lot of the work—a lot of the resources—are applied to getting the trained malaria workers, materials and coordination to the areas that are in need.

    So a lot of time and effort is spent on traveling; mobilizing vehicles and equipment and fuel.  This—a public health campaign, in areas that are far from urban centers—requires a lot of mobilization. And that costs money.  It’s not as simple as just giving somebody a net.  There’s a huge amount of work that goes into making a program effective in a rural location. And a lot of the money goes to the work behind the scenes.

    The Rev. Collins Chinsembo is a Lutheran Pastor of the ELCZ and also serves as a Malaria Focal Person in Dipalata, Zambia.

    The Rev. Collins Chinsembo is a Lutheran Pastor of the ELCZ and also serves as a Malaria Focal Person in Dipalata, Zambia. (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    To get to to Zambezi in Northwest Zambia, it’s a 17-hour drive from Lusaka, which is the capital of Zambia. And then to get to our rural locations it’s another couple of hours on roads that require a 4×4. And the malaria workers don’t have 4x4s.  So normally they have to find other ways.  Most of the malaria workers are given bicycles from the malaria program.  But to ride this trail [from Zambezi to the Lutheran congregations in the Dipalata community] on a bike is a daylong ride, and it’s an exhausting one. We are getting motorcycles this year, for some of the malaria workers.  The motorcycles will require a lot of maintenance, and registration, and training to drive them properly, and taxes.  So the mobilization of resources is a significant investment.

    Pastor Collins is a malaria worker out here. And if he comes out here to these congregations to do his church work, and/or malaria sensitization and malaria assessment, he’s got to think, “How am I going to get out here this week?” And he’s got to plan.  Now, a bicycle’s great if it’s close, but out here the congregations are 40 kilometers apart, so that’s a long bike ride on sand.  In fact, it’s brutal on sand.  You can do it, but it’s just brutal.   So he’s got to figure out, “What can I find for transport? Can I get a lift? Can I borrow a motorcycle?” Sometimes you can borrow motorcycles, sometimes you can’t—because the program doesn’t own any motorcycles yet.  This year there are malaria motorcycles coming in the budget, and the Country Coordinator will decide how they are applied out here.  So a malaria motorcycle would help mobilize Pastor Collins, for sure. When he can come out, that’s when the congregation would have communion, or confirmation or baptism, or the sacraments, or special malaria programming. But [when Pastor Collins is not available], they organize themselves locally.

    Malaria as a Disease of Poverty

    Posted on April 11, 2013 by jessicanipp

    Many thanks to the Rev. Alfred Chana, Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia, for providing this very informative interview about malaria and its effect on household economics.

    Senior Pastor Alfred Chana of the Evangelical Lutheran Chruch in Zambia speaks about malaria as Malaria Program Coordinator Abel Makungwe looks on.

    Senior Pastor Alfred Chana of the Evangelical Lutheran Chruch in Zambia speaks about malaria as Malaria Program Coordinator Abel Makungwe looks on. (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    When malaria attacks a person, be it a child, a mother, or the father, the whole household is affected. The economic level of that household goes down.

    Parents have to find money to take that child to the clinic, to pay for the medication, probably to pay for transport, to pay for food if the child is admitted to the hospital–so it becomes so costly, you see? The level of the economic power in the household tends to go down because of malaria.

    Also, once they get sick, malaria disrupts the education of school-going children. You’ll find that the child, instead of attending classes, is ill. And the child will lose a lot in the class. By the time he or she recovers and can go back to class, they find that their classmates have already gone a long way. And it takes time–it takes the child time to catch up with what others have done.

    Not only that, malaria also drains the food security.  Because as you may be aware,  70% of the population of Zambia lives in rural areas.  And that means that people scratch their livelihood out of agriculture.  And if they fall ill, that means they don’t go to work, and they lose out. After many years of this pattern, a family is food insecure.  And that means now, there won’t be good nourishment.

    So malnutrition creeps in because of malaria. 
    Poverty creeps in because of malaria. 
    Food insecurity creeps in because of malaria.

    So once malaria is reduced to a level that would allow people to continue their activities, that means that the level of poverty will go down, and children will do well in their education at school.  And food security will be ok.

    Income-generating projects such as agricultural collectives help households to afford good medical care and malaria prevention. (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    Income-generating projects such as agricultural collectives help households to afford good medical care and malaria prevention. (Photo: Matt Jeppsen)

    Those are some of the dynamics that malaria as a disease creates in families here in Zambia, which is why the malaria program, creatively, has come up with an activity that we are calling “livelihood.” This activity will provide economic power to the families. That way, you are empowering the families so that, even when they are attacked by malaria, they can stand the pressure of poverty, food insecurity, and the like.  So these are some of the issues that are very critical.

    I would like to appreciate what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is doing.  Because it is from the ELCA that we are receiving these resources which we are utilizing to promote the Lutheran Malaria Program in the communities and the church.  And it is my appeal to the ELCA church membership to take hold of this program and see how far we can go in helping out the recipients and addressing the issue of malaria in our church and our community.

     

    These "Lutheran" piglets represent a malaria-free future for their owners, who can now afford malaria prevention supplies and good medical treatment thanks to their newly-stable household income.

    These “Lutheran” piglets represent the hope of a malaria-free future for their owners, who can now afford malaria prevention supplies and good medical treatment, thanks to their newly-stabilized household income. (Photo: Abel Makungwe)