Conference Highlights Important Role of the Church in Combatting Malaria and Strengthening Health Systems in Angola
The Angolan Council of Christian Churches (CICA), in collaboration with the Angolan Ministry of Health, hosted the National Conference on the Role of the Church in the Fight Against Malaria, HIV/AIDS, Improved Maternal and Child Health and Strengthening of National Health Systems. The three-day conference, beginning on October 4th, took place in Luanda, Angola.
CICA, an interfaith Christian organization comprised of more than 1 million members promotes unity of faith and social intervention. CICA’s health department is responsible for implementing health projects, and supports member churches in running church health facilities and implementing behavior change communication activities for malaria, HIV/AIDS, and child and maternal health. Given its standing in the community, the church has a unique and important role to play in promoting health. Efforts to educate communities and mobilize health workers are already taking place in order to strengthen the overall heath system.
The CICA conference took place amid ongoing, concurrent malaria and yellow fever epidemics – both concentrated in Luanda. While the implementation of Angola’s National Strategic Plan for Malaria Control, supported by key international partners and donors, led to a sharp decline in malaria between 2000 and 2015, Angolan municipalities and districts located within Luanda have witnessed a gradual increase in malaria cases since 2013.
The increase in both malaria and yellow fever cases warrants immediate action and partnership in order to reduce the burden of disease. Given this, a central purpose of the conference was to increase the involvement of Angolan religious leaders in controlling and eliminating malaria. CICA and affiliate partners identified the provinces of Cabinda, Uíge, Malange, Kuanza Norte, Lunda Norte, Sul Namibe, Cunene, Huíla and Kuando Kubango, as priorities, given their high malaria transmission rates.
Representatives from the Isdell:Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative and the Trans Kunene Malaria Initiative participated in the conference – leading workshops on church engagement in cross-border malaria initiatives and the integration of gender into health messaging. The Minister of Health of Angola, Dr. Luís Gomes Sambo, and U.S. Ambassador Helen Meagher la Lime provided opening remarks. Rev. Deolinda Teca of CICA moderated the conference and Archbishop Emeritus of Luanda, Dom Anastácio C, provided the opening homily.
Moving forward, the involvement of the private sector and the forging of innovative partnerships will be crucial in the fight against malaria. Through long-lasting, committed partnerships, Angola can reduce the burden of disease and achieve a healthier future for its communities.