NetsforLife® Encourages Communities, Stakeholders to 'Invest in the Future. Defeat Malaria'

Apr 25, 2013, 13:21 ET from Episcopal Relief & Development

NEW YORK, April 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On April 25, World Malaria Day, Episcopal Relief & Development's NetsforLife® malaria prevention program is joining with its partners to celebrate the gains made so far in stopping this deadly disease, and call for renewed support from local and international stakeholders to "Invest in the Future. Defeat Malaria."

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Working through local Church and community partners, NetsforLife® has had a major impact on malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.  The program's methodology of hanging nets in homes has resulted in higher rates of net coverage and a greater reduction in malaria-related deaths than the standard distribution method.  Although the cost of distributing nets directly to households is higher than positioning them at a fixed collection point, coverage and retention rates are much better when the NetsforLife® methodology is implemented, leading to a decline in area mosquito populations and a reduction in malaria-related sickness and death.

"The strengths of our award-winning NetsforLife® model are that we work through local communities and physically hang nets above people's sleeping areas," said Gifty Tetteh, Strategic Outreach Officer for NetsforLife®.  "Because we train and work through local volunteers, their neighbors trust them to bring nets into their homes and install them, and later follow-up visits help ensure that the nets are in place and maintained properly."

Community involvement is the key factor that makes the NetsforLife® methodology so much more impactful than the standard distribution method.  Local Malaria Control Agents and NetsforLife® staff have planned fun and creative activities that all generations can enjoy.  For example, in Liberia, NetsforLife® and its local partners are hosting a World Malaria Day event in Riverness County that includes door-to-door education, dramatic skits about malaria prevention, traditional cultural dancers and a soccer match with NetsforLife® and the National Malaria Control Program versus the County Health Team.

"It is wonderful to see the creative ways in which communities are gathering to celebrate the progress that has been made in the fight against malaria," said Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development.  "The success of NetsforLife® is grounded in this kind of community involvement, and I am thankful to all of the staff and volunteers whose tireless efforts are making such a difference."

Moving forward, NetsforLife®'s 2013 goal is to distribute 3 million nets and influence the national malaria control policies of seven countries in addition to the five that have already adopted the "hang-up" methodology.  Throughout NetsforLife®'s ongoing work, the collection of meaningful data will continue to be a priority, and collaboration with universities and independent institutions will be an area of growth.  It is expected that robust analysis of the program's impact will further establish NetsforLife® as a key player in the effort to end malaria.

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus' words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners to help rebuild after disasters and to empower local communities to find lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.

NetsforLife® is a partnership of corporations, foundations and faith-based organizations working to eliminate malaria in Africa. The program partnership includes Episcopal Relief & Development, the ExxonMobil Foundation, Standard Chartered Bank, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, Starr International Foundation and the J.C. Flowers Foundation.

SOURCE Episcopal Relief & Development