NetsforLife® Partners for Success in Sierra Leone

December 15, 2010

In support of Sierra Leone’s national effort to combat malaria, NetsforLife® joined forces with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to hang nearly 330,000 long-lasting insecticide-treated nets in the highly-populated southern district of Bo. Over the course of two weeks, 3,000 trained volunteers installed nets in homes and helped families learn how to use them to prevent malaria.

This accelerated initiative, which launched nationally on November 25, aims to achieve universal coverage (defined as one net for every two people) in net distribution, with an 80% usage rate to be maintained over time through the engagement of local leadership and follow-up by volunteers. International organizations including the World Health Organization, the Red Cross of Sierra Leone and UNICEF are working in partnership with the country’s Ministry of Health, local chiefs and religious leaders to carry out this program.

The NetsforLife®/UMCOR distribution coincided with the national Maternal and Child Health Week, in order to emphasize the importance of net usage for pregnant women and children under the age of five, who are particularly vulnerable to malaria. Because malnutrition worsens the impact of malaria, Vitamin A supplements and Albendazole (a de-worming treatment) were also administered to children under five.

“The partnership with UMCOR and the Methodists in Sierra Leone is an example of what can be achieved when two denominations work together to solve a common problem,” stated Shaun Walsh, Executive Director of NetsforLife®. “With a shared vision of serving the people of Sierra Leone, the Methodist and Anglican teams combined skills, strengths and resources, traveling the road together in dealing with local challenges, overcoming obstacles and learning valuable lessons.”

This is the second time NetsforLife® has partnered with UMCOR to amplify the work of both Methodist and Anglican efforts on the ground in Africa. The first joint distribution launched last April on World Malaria Day in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Building on the foundation of these two joint efforts, NetsforLife® will continue to pursue partnerships with UMCOR, other faith groups and local civil society to maximize and leverage resources to ensure the greatest impact.

“I am thrilled by the impact of the UMCOR-NetsforLife® partnership so far, and energized by the possibilities that lie ahead for our organizations and the churches and communities we serve,” said Shannon Trilli, the Director of UMCOR’s Malaria Initiative.

The success of NetsforLife® is a direct result of its partnerships with a network of faith-based organizations, especially Anglican churches, working on the ground in Africa. As an integral part of local communities, churches have helped the program distribute over 4.7 million nets and educate 5 million people about malaria prevention, as well as recruit and train over 20,000 malaria control agents.

The overall goal of the NetsforLife® program is to distribute 7 million nets in sub-Saharan Africa by 2013.

Please visit the NetsforLife® page for more information about Episcopal Relief & Development’s program partnership. Donations can also be made over the phone by calling 1.800.334.7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058. Please put “NetsforLife®/Malaria” in the memo line of all checks.

NetsforLife® is a partnership of corporations, foundations and faith-based organizations working to eliminate malaria in Africa. The program partnership, which has benefited more than 18 million people, includes ExxonMobil, Standard Chartered Bank, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, Starr International Foundation, the J.C. Flowers Foundation and Episcopal Relief & Development.

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Together with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development rebuilds after disasters and empowers people by offering lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.