By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
The Anglican Church in Zambia says the fight against malaria in the central African region cannot be won unless all stakeholders come together to address the disease, which remains a “major public health and development challenge on the continent.”
Speaking during a cross-boarder initiative roundtable discussion last week at the Zambia-Namibia border, the Zambia Anglican Council (ZAC) National Programmes Director Grace Mazala Phiri said, “The elimination of malaria in Zambia and neighbouring countries cannot be addressed by government alone.”
Despite improvements made in terms of malaria incidence in the past seven years, malaria still remains the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Zambia. The improvements have been attributed to efforts made by the Zambian government and key partners such as ZAC through a campaign called Roll-Back Malaria.
Mrs Phiri explained, “The overall achievements were made through implementing various strategies which include use of insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying, prevention during pregnancy and early diagnosis, case management of malaria and surveillance as stipulated in the National Malaria Strategic Plan of 2006-2010.”
The Anglican Alliance, whose mission is to build a world free of poverty and injustice, also participated in the discussions. Co-Director at the Anglican Alliance the Revd Rachel Carnegie said, “Church leaders from around the world can learn a lot from this initiative and similar strategies can be applied in different contexts around the Communion.
“The Church’s reach in communities is unmatched and this can be used to address various health issues. There is so much to learn in this effective partnership between governments, communities and NGOs.”
Mrs Phiri said that the programmes have been a success due to the strong partnership which ZAC has made with JC Flowers Foundation, Coke Africa Foundation, Christian Aid, JCP, the Ministry of Health in Zambia and the communities in the operational sites.
“The financial and technical support from these partners has made it possible to implement activities successfully,” she said. “This success especially in the ZAC-operated sites cannot go without mention of the contributions of the community-based volunteers from which we draw our strength in implementing the activities.”
The Zambia Anglican Council which has been implementing the Cross Border Malaria Prevention Initiative since 2010 along the borders with Angola and Namibia, and the roundtable discussions provided an opportunity for sharing experiences among participants from the four participating countries of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.
There was a general consensus that there is need to integrate the malaria project with other health issues affecting the community such as reproductive health and HIV and AIDS. The team also agreed that the cross-border initiative should continue, even if the malaria burden is lessening, to reach the elimination stage.