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African church praised for crucial role in fighting malaria

April 16 2012 - With World Malaria Day on April 25 the unique role the Church is playing in tackling the disease in sub-Saharan Africa has been highlighted.

It is well known that mosquito nets and access to treatment save lives but the central role of the Church is sometimes overlooked.

At a joyful service at St Stephen’s Anglican Church in Lusaka earlier this month, Archbishop Albert Chama of the Province of Central Africa (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Malawi) conferred its highest honour; the Order of the Epiphany, on philanthropists Christopher Flowers and Neville Isdell for their leadership and long-standing support for the work of the Church to eliminate malaria.

The Archbishop emphasised the need for everyone to play their part and said the partnership with Christian Aid, faith communities and national governments is contributing to the significant progress that has been made.  ’We believe that if anyone has malaria in our parish we all have malaria,’ he said.

Christopher Flowers, CEO of J.C. Flowers and Co and former CEO of Coca-Cola Neville Isdell working in partnership with Christian Aid and the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation are focussing their work along national borders.

Border regions are often the most difficult places in which to work and can be the last places to receive help fighting disease. By working through the church in remote communities in Zambia bordering Namibia and Angola the Cross-Border Malaria Initiative has distributed education and health knowledge in addition to 100,000 insecticide treated mosquito nets.

Mr Flowers, highlighted the advantages of the Church’s trusted influence and its ability to mobilise volunteers. He said: 'I am delighted to be working with Christian Aid and the Anglican Church. The church has an efficient and effective delivery network and can reach beyond the end of the road. We know that by investing in malaria prevention we are increasing family incomes.’

Mr Isdell added:  'Zambia is a country close to my heart, I grew up here; Zambia has made considerable progress in malaria prevention and now we must sustain those gains across the borders in neighbouring countries. Mosquitoes aren’t limited by country borders and people cross national boundaries to go to church, to markets and visit extended families.’

David Pain, Associate Director of Christian Aid, who represented the organisation at the ceremony said Christian Aid works with partner organisations to empower local civil society and make a lasting and sustainable impact on communities: 'This is a fitting recognition of the leadership by Chris and Neville and the effective partnership with Christian Aid. It is a good example of our partnership for change.’

In Lusaka the Rt Revd William Mchombo praised the work of the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative by pointing to the example of Jesus.

He said: ‘In the first three gospels, the evangelists focus on the bread and wine, inviting us to know that, as we take, bless, break and share bread, we find ourselves in the presence of Jesus.

‘In the fourth and last gospel, the focus shifts to the basin and towel – and Jesus’ challenge to his disciples and to us to kneel with him in serving’.

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If you would like further information please contact Joe Ware on 0207 523 2418 or jware @christian-aid.org. For 24-hr enquiries the duty phone number is 07850242950.

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk