Anglican choirs in Mozambique are singing to raise awareness of malaria.Anglicans in Mozambique are spearheading a campaign to combat malaria – but say developing countries are struggling because global medical research is focused on the west.
One successful part of the malaria campaign in Mozambique saw Anglican choirs singing about malaria while competing in TV talent shows – and winning.
The Rt Revd Dinis Sengulane, Bishop of Lebombo, said: ‘Young people are very involved in the church and there has been a wonderful growth of choirs. They compete on TV and often come first or second. Recently they were singing about malaria.’
He added: ‘Malaria is a killer. We need to educate people and explain the implications. Anglicans are at the forefront of this campaign, with other religious groups participating.’
But Bishop Denis believes the global community should do more – rather than focusing on medical concerns that affect the west.
He said: ‘It is disheartening when you consider how little is happening with malaria in our country, then see the massive global response to something like bird flu, which wasn’t nearly so severe.
‘Great progress was made with tuberculosis in the 1940s and 1950s because it was considered a global problem. Likewise, great progress has been made for those in the west who are living with HIV. But malaria is a disease of the poor nations and remains with us after generations.’
Global research trends offer concern
Former USPG Mission Companion Dr Susannah Woodd, who was based at St Luke’s Hospital, in Malosa, Malawi, also expressed concerns regarding trends in research.
Following a measles outbreak in March 2010, she said it was August before the government could carry out a vaccination programme for children.
She said: ‘It took months for the government to appeal to other donor countries to give money for the campaign – much longer than should be necessary. Yet, a month or two later, Malawi received left-over vaccines for swine flu – even though there had been no reported cases in the country.’
Susannah said medical research in general was biased towards western diseases and patients.
She said: ‘Malawi has a growing problem with diabetes, hypertension and heart disease – but the research is mostly western-based, so the guidelines do not take into account significant genetic and contextual factors that are relevant for Africa.
‘The problem, of course, is that research is initiated by drug companies that need to make money from their research – and they can’t make big profits in developing countries.’