THE Council of Churches in Zambia has urged faith leaders to take a leading role in the fight against malaria.
As the country joins other Southern African Development Community (SADC) members from November 22 to 27 in commemorating the SADC Malaria Week under the theme, ‘Community involvement is key in achieving zero malaria’, CCZ general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya urged faith leaders to take a leading role in the fight against malaria which, according to the World Health Organisation, kills about a million people in Africa.
Fr Chikoya said it was imperative for faith leaders to deliberately take time educating and sensitising their members and the community on diseases such as malaria and some of the preventive measures they can take to combat it.
He said the negative impacts of malaria affect all sectors of society and that the Church was not an exemption hence the need for faith leaders to get on board to sensitise the people for they represent what he termed as ‘moral authority.’
Fr Chikoya said faith leaders need to cooperate with health experts to be agents of transformation utilising the captivating audience they have.
“The Church promotes wholeness! Yes, we preach salvation for people to receive Jesus as their Lord and personal saviour but we must not forget that Jesus also came so that we may have life and have it in abundance. You can’t have life in abundance when you are sick. People should have the right information and understanding pertaining matters of malaria,” he said when he joined faith leaders, government officials and stakeholders in a fundraising march past which began from Puma Filling Station in Kanyama up to St Philips Congregation United Church of Zambia. “Let’s take precaution measures. Let’s urge people to be cleaning their surroundings, burying shallow wells and getting rid of stagnant waters which in most cases is the breeding ground for mosquitoes.”
And Fr Gift Kabubi said it was sad to note that in such a time, some people still consider taking medical advice or services as a sign for ‘lack of faith’.
He said the fight against malaria does not have to be taken lightly as many people had lost their loved ones and as such it is not right to downplay malaria.
Fr Kabubi urged people to be more intentional in the fight against malaria such as sleeping under insecticide treated mosquito nets, cleaning their surroundings and making sure that their homes are sprayed.
And in a speech read for her by director of public health Andrew Silumesii, health minister Sylvia Masebo said ending malaria was not a ‘one man’s show’ but required concerted efforts from all stakeholders.
Masebo said the gesture exhibited by faith leaders was appreciated by the government as it shows the seriousness in combating malaria.
She said the new dawn government had allocated colossal resources in preventing and fighting various diseases including malaria in the 2022 national budget.
“Malaria remains one of the leading causes of illness and death in Zambia accounting for over five million cases per year. God desires for us to be health therefore, faith leaders also have a huge role in supplementing government’s efforts,” said Masebo.
In representing the district health management team, Dr Gladys Muyembe used the occasion to also remind participants that COVID-19 was real and urged those who are still hesitant of getting vaccination to get vaccinated.