The Episcopal Relief and Development program, Nets for Life, has succeeded in preventing malaria in many parts of the world. With the success of the distribution of treated mosquito netting, the effort will be increased over the next five years. Nets for Life partners with Episcopalians and corporations to raise funds for the prevention of malaria. According to Episcopal Life Online:
NetsforLife Executive Director Shaun Walsh said the free nets are distributed to targeted communities while local leaders are trained to go out and provide education and prevention assistance.
“We go to the church to reach out to the women in the community because our main focus is children under five years old and pregnant and lactating women. They are the ones who are most vulnerable to malaria,” he said. “Basically, we’re trying to empower the church to help others. We identify leaders [and] train them to help other neighboring dioceses.”
Prevention is key. “We help mobilize the community to look for ways to help prevent malaria. If they’re next to water that is standing still that is a breeding ground for malaria, we help them to deal with that. It’s working with the community to also be part of the solution.”
As of June 2008, the program had distributed nearly 800,000 nets and affected about 9.8 million people both directly and indirectly. “When we say indirect, regarding malaria prevention, each person educated tells three other people, according to our program evaluation. So the bottom line is that the message is spread to 10 million people over the three-year period,” he said. “It’s a massive undertaking the Church in Africa has taken on.”
When ERD realizes its original goal, to distribute 1 million nets to 15 countries by the end of September, it will set a new one: distribute 5 million nets over five years in a total of 18 countries, added Walsh, who next month will relocate operations to New York, rather than the United kingdom.
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