Muslims, Christians and Bahai have joined efforts in a multi-sectorial campaign aimed at eliminating malaria in Zambia.
It is a rare moment where religious groupings that differ in beliefs and practices elect to work together in the best interest of their faithful.
The three religious bodies have partnered to fight malaria under the End Malaria Council of Zambia umbrella.
The End Malaria Council is engaging Christians, Muslims and the Bahai through Faith Leader Advocacy for Malaria Elimination (FLAME) in the fight against malaria.
In an interview, co-chair of the End Malaria Council of Zambia – Bishop David Njovu of the Anglican Diocese of Lusaka said there is a need for faith leaders to increase their advocacy voices in a bid to end malaria.
Bishop Njovu said malaria has continued to kill many people in Zambia.
He revealed that over 1,700 people died from malaria in 2020.
Bishop Njovu said religious leaders should utilise their places of worship to preach messages aimed at eliminating malaria.
“We are mobilising all the faiths that are in Zambia. Currently we are working with three, the Christians, the Muslims and the Baha’i faiths. So we are moving from every province to organise the faith leaders to get involved in the fight against malaria. We call this movement FLAME, meaning Faith Leaders Advocacy for Malaria Elimination. The key word is advocacy so we have to advocate to ensure that one, the malaria agenda continues and to make sure that the Government does not drop the fight in any way. Secondly, that the general community is reminded that malaria is still with us, malaria is a killer,” said the senior clergy.
Bishop Njovu said Zambia should not relax in its effort to eliminate malaria amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In 2020, we had more than 1, 700 people who died of malaria which is far higher than the deaths of COVID-19. We can only achieve this if every faith is involved. For instance, we are being informed that Ndola Diocese has 1.6 million faithful, now imagine if every one of the 1.6 million gets involved in the issue of ending malaria. And what we are talking about is not complicated, the message is can we sleep under a treated mosquito net. Most of the people say I cannot breath in the mosquito net, I mean with all those holes and you say you can’t breathe so that is in the mindset and now our job is to change that and what is the best place to do that apart from the faith place where they go to? Is it the mosque, is it a church and where they hear it come from their faith leaders that no, you cannot suffocate but the net protects you from malaria and those you love,” Bishop Njovu said.
The Anglican Bishop added that not everything about the fight against malaria requires money.
“Another message which we are talking about is a pregnant woman, can you ensure that she goes to the hospital as soon as they become pregnant so that they can be given medication to protect themselves and the unborn child. According to statistics, a high number of deaths arising from malaria are those of children under five and pregnant women. We are visiting faith leaders to ask them if their people can get fully involved in the fight against malaria,” he said.
Bishop Njovu concluded:”Malaria kills and we shouldn’t take it for granted that it has been there for a long time. Malaria also ends with me, it ends with you if you do your part that doesn’t require any funds you are able to defeat malaria. Sleep under a net, your surroundings must be kept clean. Burry all pools of water near you. So let us protect ourselves from malaria.”