The Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi welcomed Dr Stephen Dzisi from Episcopal Relief and Development for one week in June. The purpose of the visit was to assess the situation regarding malaria in order to see how the Church might best intervene in the prevention of the disease.
The Province is about to receive 16,500 long-lasting mosquito nets for distribution around the dioceses and is preparing to embark on a programme of education and training about their use and malaria in general. This is part of ERD's wider programme to distribute 1 million nets across 17 countries in Africa.
Malaria, though easily preventable, continues to kill many every year. It is estimated that in some places malaria is killing more people than HIV/AIDS. Early recognition of symptoms is essential as the delay between onset of illness and care is often the cause of death.
It is very important for the country that health issues are addressed as poor health has social and economic implications. It is recognised that the Church has an important role to play. Many of the most vulnerable and poorest people do not have easy access to health centres but the Church is a presence with a strong influence that acts as a channel to them. Networks such as Mothers' Union and youth groups can also facilitate education of those most at risk.
One aspect of the Province's long-term aim, therefore, is the desire to move towards an integrated health programme that will address health issues in general but particularly focus on malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB.
To this end, fully-functional health-centres, clinics and hospitals will be necessary. In many places, due to the crisis and neglect, there is urgent need for repair of infrastructure, resources, and personnel.
Collaboration with other agencies concerned with health will also be essential.
The Province is grateful to all its partners for their support and advice.