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Imagine No Malaria...The Dangers of Early Success

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
 An insecticide treated mosquito nets protects this family in Cote d'Ivoire from Malaria, a deadly, yet preventable disease.  Photo: Mike DuBose

By Jim Fay, Wesley Church and Foundation of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.

The early efforts of the Imagine No Malaria campaign and its partners have been dramatic and exciting indeed: malaria deaths reduced by about one third, participation by NBA and television stars, and other success stories few people would have imagined. Indeed, few people could have imagined the clinical laboratory applications the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation managed to put into a cell phone. The value of these cell phone innovations goes far beyond Africa or malaria.

But these early successes open the door to a couple of diametrically opposite dangers.

Danger 1 is short-changing the regular, permanent, everyday United Methodist responsibilities in order to contribute to the exciting, gratifying success stories. Admittedly, it is hard to get terribly excited about paying the monthly church light bill, or the staff medical insurance premiums or the conference apportionments some of us might be a little hazy about. But there is an irony here. The recent dramatic success stories in Africa are possible because The United Methodist Church already had the organizational, charitable, and medical infrastructure on the ground across Africa and around the world to ad-dress the problem.

That is why the United Nations asked The United Methodist Church for help with malaria prevention in the first place.  That is why 100 percent of malaria prevention contributions goes to malaria prevention. We've already paid the everyday administrative costs.

Today’s exciting, dramatic changes in the world were made possible in large part because of the ho-hum, everyday, charitable nuts-and-bolts Methodists have been taking care of for a couple of centuries. (That's why they call us "Methodists.") For example, the most effective anti-malarial drugs (ACTs) cost about 40 or 50 cents per treatment through public or charitable health facilities. They — or worthless counterfeits — costs about ten or twenty times that when purchased through private facilities or pharmacies, which, in the past, was often about the only way to get the drug.

Danger 2 is assuming that, because of some early success stories, the problem has been solved. It is true that in a fairly short time the Imagine No Malaria campaign and its partners have cut the rate of deaths due to malaria in half, from every 30 seconds to every minute. But a death from malaria in Africa every minute is a horrendous and unacceptable statistic.


Those who have already contributed or pledged have every right to feel gratified and exhilarated about the successes their contributions have accomplished. And those who have not contributed still have time to get in on the excitement and exhilaration. Much more remains to be done.

Got a minute? Make a difference. (Or if you already have contributed, continue to make a difference.)

Go to http://www.imaginenomalaria.org/  and click on the "Donate" tab. It only takes a minute.

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