Dr. Joseph Mberikunashi, Director of Zimbabwe's National Malaria Control Programme, urged malaria scientists, program managers, and faith leaders to curb the recent resurgence of malaria, a preventable disease that kills more than 400,000 people annually.
"There is great need to develop new tools and more importantly make use of the new technologies as they becomes available," he said during the formal opening of the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative Round Table meeting, held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on March 1st and 2nd.
The two-day meeting brought together more than 80 participants from diverse backgrounds. Malaria Field officers from remote communities along the borders of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, and Angola joined Anglican Bishops from the four countries as well as Ministry of Health representatives, researchers, and non-governmental partners to present new research and strategies for malaria elimination.
During the meeting, J.C. Flowers, Co-Founder of the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative, stressed the important role of the Anglican Church in eliminating malaria from hard to reach, "last mile" communities.
"There is still much work to do, but the extensive focus on community engagement and ownership by the Anglican Church here in sub-Saharan Africa has contributed to significant advances in the fight against malaria."
Bishop David Njovu of the Anglican Diocese of Lusaka, Zambia, explained that the Church's active presence in communities most affected by malaria enables it to mobilize people around malaria prevention and treatment. In particular, the Anglican Church has been effective in engaging thousands of malaria volunteers who are responsible for delivering malaria education, testing, and treatment services.
"The Church is found in most communities of Zambia. This gives it a comparative advantage in the fight against malaria in the sense that people who volunteer to participate in the fight do so because they are motivated by love but also to protect their own community," he said.
Meeting participants came to a consensus that addressing the cross-border importation of malaria is a critical strategy for achieving malaria elimination in the SADC region.
About the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative
The Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative has supported malaria control and elimination programs in "last mile" communities for nine years. Recognizing the global commitment to eliminate malaria and the need to address malaria transmission across national borders, Isdell:Flowers focuses its efforts on border communities in Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia. This partnership includes community and traditional leaders, the Anglican Church and faith-based communities, national governments, and multilateral donors.
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