United Methodist Church contributes $9.6 million to Global Fund

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Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton has presented a check for $9.6 million from the people of The United Methodist Church to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The gift to the Geneva-based organization is the single largest contribution ever made by a faith-based group, fund officials said.

Bickerton presented the check from the denomination’s Imagine No Malaria initiative to Dr. Mark Dybul, executive director of the Geneva-based Global Fund, in a ceremony at the Capitol Visitors Center that was attended by lawmakers, United Methodists and members of secular and global groups. The presentation was one of a number of global events held to mark World Malaria Day, April 25.

“As I stand here, representing Imagine No Malaria and the people of The United Methodist Church, I recognize that we are partners with a wide variety of secular and global organizations — many who are in the room with us today — whose goal, like our own, is to eliminate malaria deaths and move people to a healthier possibility for their lives,” said Bickerton, who chairs the United Methodist Global Health Initiative and leads the denomination's Pittsburgh Area.

“There is not one organization that will get rid of malaria. We will do this together. This is a cause worth fighting for,” he said.

The contribution makes The United Methodist Church one of the most significant non-government contributors to the Global Fund. The money will be used to purchase and distribute insecticide-treated bed nets and other tools to control malaria in Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Dybul and Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer of the President's Malaria Initiative recognized the people of The United Methodist Church for their commitment to the fight against malaria.

"We thank The United Methodist Church for their gift, but we really thank them for what they are doing on the ground. That’s how we will eliminate malaria," Dybul said.

Ziemer echoed Dybul’s comments.

“This event is a capstone event for celebrating and renewing our commitment for what we are all about,” Ziemer said, adding that faith-based organizations bring an important level of relationships to the fight against malaria.

“Being faith-based is much more than about the infrastructure of an organization,” Ziemer said. “You represent the hearts, minds and influence of the communities and in changing their behavior. To make sure people in these communities hang up the mosquito net and keep it up takes influence, and that’s what the faith-based community does. The notion of hope and working together is what the faith-based organization is all about.”

Fight must continue

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), who also spoke at the event, pointed out that the fight to prevent malaria deaths must continue.

“As we approach World Malaria Day, we are reminded of the incredible successes we’ve had in recent years, but we’re also reminded of how much work still lies ahead,” said Coons, co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases. 

“Last year alone, we saw nearly 200 million cases of malaria around the world that led to more than 580,000 deaths. Most of those deaths were children under 5 years old, and 90 percent of them struck in Africa. These are sobering statistics, but we know that this terrible disease is both preventable and treatable. That’s why we have to continue investing in our fight against malaria at the federal level and in cooperation with our incredible partners.  Together, we can rid the world of this disease,” Coons said.

In 2010, the Global Fund and The United Methodist Church joined forces in the fight against malaria. The core of this partnership is the Imagine No Malaria campaign, which focuses on  empowering the people of Africa to improve health infrastructure and achieve a sustainable victory over malaria. The partnership takes advantage of the denomination’s network of hospitals and clinics in Africa and the commitment of United Methodists, along with the scope and resources of the Global Fund, to accomplish more than either could alone.

The April 22 event was organized and hosted by Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a Washington, D.C.,-based advocacy organization dedicated to sustaining and expanding U.S. support for the Global Fund.

The United Methodist Church has pledged up to $28 million to help those at-risk enjoy malaria-free lives, and has raised $18.1 million for the Global Fund to date.  Imagine No Malaria is near its goal of raising $75 million for the battle against malaria.

To commemorate World Malaria Day, United Methodists have organized events to raise Imagine No Malaria funds with the theme of #BringChange.

Caviness is a public relations specialist for United Methodist Communications.

News contact: Vicki Brown at [email protected] or 615-742-5400.

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