NetsforLife® Partners for Success in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone – 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 8.5 million nets, educate 24 million people about malaria prevention, as well as recruit and train over 74,000 malaria control agents.