Since the inception of the ELCA Malaria Campaign, we’ve been aiming for a goal: 2015. This is a time-bound campaign, with a defined beginning and a defined end. We want to raise—and send to our partners—$15 million by 2015. Increasingly I’m hearing the question: then what?
And it’s a good question. Even “long-lasting” insecticide treated mosquito nets don’t last forever. Anti-malarial drugs and testing kits need to be continuously resupplied. What will happen to our partners’ malaria programs in Africa after 2015 (or in other words, when the money runs out)?
I’m glad you asked! All along, the ELCA Malaria Campaign and our companions in Africa have been working to make malaria programs sustainable. That is, we’ve worked to create programs that will bring long-lasting effects, programs that will change lives for good. Programs are providing a lot of supply-based care: prevention, diagnosis, treatment; but always with an eye to what comes next.
Consider the following ways in which malaria programs supported by the ELCA Malaria Campaign have already begun to make change for good:
On a structural level:
- Our companion Lutheran churches and organizations have learned new skills related to malaria and program implementation—skills that will shape and support future projects
- Advocacy with national and local governments in Africa has created new pathways for flow of resources to clinics with high numbers of malaria cases
- Strong relationships have been formed on the ground: other local organizations and governments have learned that Lutherans do good work
- Lutheran health systems have been strengthened and now have more resources to incorporate malaria care into existing programs
- Volunteers have been trained to administer diagnosis and treatment at the local level
- Trained volunteers and staff people have spread malaria knowledge to the household level. This knowledge of malaria prevention and control will endure
- Families have learned new, healthier behaviors and habits that will continue to protect their health: managing their environment to keep it free from mosquitoes, maintaining clean latrine and garbage facilities, sleeping under nets, getting help within the critical 24-hour period
- Children who avoided contracting malaria have been attending school more regularly, which will set them up for future success
- Parents who avoided contracting malaria have been able to work harder to provide for their families, and to take part in income-generating projects to benefit their households
- Communities have learned how to manage their money collectively: Village Savings and Loan groups help individuals purchase a new mosquito net, afford transportation to the clinic, pay for health care fees
- As the worldwide death rate from malaria continues to slow, we wonder: how many children are alive today because they had access to good malaria care?
But still, there are some moving parts—some consumables—that are crucial to malaria prevention and control in communities: supplies like nets, diagnostic equipment and medicines. A well-educated public will create even more demand for these materials. And so, after our fundraising campaign ends in 2015, future malaria work will continue (as long as it continues to be a priority for our companions in Africa). This future malaria work will be supported by gifts to ELCA World Hunger, which already supports many health-related projects of our companions.
I’m grateful for all of the members of the ELCA who have grown to care deeply about the impact of malaria on God’s children in Africa and all over the world! I know that your care and concern–and our work together with our Lutheran sisters and brothers in Africa– will last far beyond 2015.