According to the World Health Organization, in 2008 there were 247 million cases of malaria and nearly one million deaths—mostly among African children. In Africa, a child dies every 45 seconds of malaria, and the disease accounts for 20 percent of all childhood deaths there.

April 25 is World Malaria Day.  On this day devoted to addressing one of the most widespread fatal diseases of our time, we know that bed nets are one of several important tools to combat this disease.  Bed nets are important and the most publicized form of prevention, but that’s one of many aspects of combating this far-reaching epidemic.  It’s also about education, safe drinking water, and a global cooperation of people and organizations working together with affected communities to halt this disease.

The ELCA is part of an inter-Lutheran effort to combat malaria: the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.  As this work gains momentum, consider what you can do to support it.  Learn how youth are getting involved.

Like hunger, whether you understand malaria on an academic level or by virtue of experience with the disease, a communal gut reaction is needed to the widespread devastation this epidemic continues to cause.  As one of the body of Christ suffers, so do we all.  As one of the body of Christ has AIDS or malaria, so do we all. 

Those who have the ability to act have the responsibility to act.  Whether malaria, AIDS, hunger, and countless other justice issues in the world that disproportionately affect people living in poverty, let us step forward boldly as a public church whose witness is visible in endless acts of human connection and meaningful systems of change.

-Aaron Cooper is writer-editor for ELCA World Hunger