United Methodist Bishops Putting Wallets to Work Preventing Malaria;

United Methodist Communications
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March 13, 2007

Contact: Diane Denton
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United Methodist Bishops Putting Wallets to Work Preventing Malaria;
Congregations Urged to Hold Special April 25 Services, Buy Bed Nets

HOUSTON United Methodist bishops are putting their wallets to work in the fight to save lives by preventing malaria in Africa.

Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, president of the denomination's Council of Bishops, is urging United Methodists and persons of good will to skip lunch on Africa Malaria Day, April 25, and use their lunch money to buy a lifesaving bed net.

"Malaria kills a child every 30 seconds in Africa," the Houston-based Huie said. "Bed nets are the most cost-effective way to protect children from the mosquitoes who carry this killer disease.

"This is an easy, tangible way to make a difference. Join me. I'm going to skip lunch and donate $10 to send a bed net," Huie said. "Skip a lunch. Send a net. Save a life."

The people of The United Methodist Church are a founding partner in the Nothing But Nets campaign. Other founding partners include the United Nations Foundation, the National Basketball Association's NBA Cares, and Sports Illustrated.

Huie encouraged local churches to join this effort by holding a lunchtime worship service focusing on malaria on April 25. Rather than eating lunch, persons can donate $10 to buy a bed net. Every dollar given to the initiative is used to purchase and distribute bed nets for children in Africa. Downloadable resources including suggestions about how churches can get involved, graphics, and worship materials will be available at
www.UMC.org/netson or before March 20.

Each $10 donation will pay for the purchase and distribution of an insecticide-treated bed net to a family in Africa, as well as education about its use. A challenge grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will match contributions dollar for dollar up to $3 million.

"Nothing But Nets is a visible part of our long-term commitment to eliminate malaria," Huie said. "Providing comprehensive health care to the developing nations of Africa is a long, difficult process. It will need to continue for generations."

April 25 has been designated as Africa Malaria Day, and for the first time President George W. Bush has proclaimed the day as Malaria Awareness Day in the United States.

United Methodist bishops endorsed the Nothing But Nets initiative while meeting in Mozambique, East Africa last year.

"As bishops, we have a special place in our hearts for the children of Africa," Huie said. "We are committed to doing everything we can to save lives while making disciples of Jesus Christ in Africa." United Methodists have been in mission in Africa for more than 160 years, operating hospitals, clinics, schools and mission centers.

To learn how to make a donation, visitwww.nothingbutnets.net or www.umc.org/nets.

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