From peace to health: Malaria is Mozambique bishop’s next target

Popularly known for his leading role in Mozambique’s peace talks, Anglican bishop Dinis Sengulane of the Mozambican diocese of Lebombo is now leading a fight against Mozambique’s number one killer disease, malaria.

Bishop Dinis Sengulane, Mozambican Diocese of Lebombo. MARITES SISON/ANGLICAN JOURNAL
Bishop Dinis Sengulane, Mozambican Diocese of Lebombo. MARITES SISON/ANGLICAN JOURNAL

Malaria kills more people in Mozambique than HIV/AIDS, which is ravaging Africa. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), “malaria accounts for around 35 per cent of all deaths among children under 5, and the high prevalence is a major contributing factor to Mozambique having one of the highest child mortality rates in the world.”

On a recent visit to Canada, Bishop Sengulane chair of the Mozambican Role Back Malaria program, told staff at Church House that it is now imperative, that the church get involved in the fight against malaria. “There is a growing need to train our catechist and lay leaders in basic health education,” he said.

The Anglican Church of Canada, through the Anglican Appeal has been supporting the training of lay leaders and catechist in the diocese, “but what we need now is to focus more on basic health education,” said Bishop Sengulane.

Most training resources have been channelled towards HIV/AIDS and peace related programs. However, “fighting HIV/AIDS does not mean you abandon the fight against malaria,” said Bishop Sengulane. “Malaria is a shortcut to kill people with HIV/AIDS, yet what causes malaria has nothing to do with health, it is preventable, it is curable and can be eradicated.”

“In Mozambique alone, malaria takes the life of one child every 30 seconds,” he said. “It was in that context that I undertook to be involved in the fight against malaria and accepted my nomination as chair of the Mozambique’s Roll Back Malaria program.”

The Roll Back Malaria program, initiated by 90 organizations including WHO, the UN Children’s Fund, the UN Development Program and the World Bank, aims to halve malaria deaths in Africa by 2010. It is seeking to bring together civil society, religious groups, traditional leaders, banks and other groups in the fight against malaria.

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