The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) has included the role of clergy in malaria elimination within its orientation for new bishops, which is taking place from 13-21 May 2019 in Embu, Nairobi.
Recognizing that accountable and selfless leadership are keys to Africa’s flourishing, CAPA’s orientation of new bishops and their spouses revolves around the theme “Transformational Leadership” and addresses topics such as enabling leadership in an ever-changing context, nurturing a healthy church, managing transitions, resource mobilization, and malaria elimination.
Representatives from the J.C. Flowers Foundation trained the participants about malaria transmission and strategies for prevention, treatment, and community mobilization. Constance Njovu, J.C. Flowers Foundation Regional Coordinator, noted that “these bishops come from across the African continent and all have very significant leadership roles. They have caught the vision of malaria elimination, and as they begin working with the Ministries of Health on malaria elimination, the priests in their dioceses will follow their lead. As a result, many people will be saved from malaria and from malaria deaths.”
Chris Flowers, Founder of the J.C. Flowers Foundation and Co-Founder of the Isdell: Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative, commenting on the critical role of the church, noted “I am delighted that these CAPA bishops have prioritized malaria, which still kills a child every two minutes. I visited a village in Zambia, and in this very remote place, the only organized institution was an Anglican Church. There was an expected, trusted pastor. These are essential. You can have fantastic science, you can have fantastic medicine, you can have nets delivered, but unless they are deployed correctly and people are trained on how to use them and to recognize when to go for treatment, it’s all in vain. The church provides a unique, trusted network to get that last mile.”
CAPA bishops recognized the church’s strategic role in helping families protect themselves from malaria. The Right Reverend Moses Deng Bol from the Diocese of Wau, South Sudan, noted that “In South Sudan, if you want to share any information with a big number of the population, use the church. Few people have radios because people need food more than a radio. Who interacts with the most people on a weekly basis? It’s not the chief. It’s the pastor. Maybe through media the President of the country can reach people, but it’s the pastors who reach the most people.”
The gathered bishops also recognized the opportunity that they have as trusted leaders, working in areas with significant malaria burdens. The Right Reverend Vicente Msosa from the Diocese of Niassa, Mozambique, expressed his conviction by noting, “the fact that our communities still have malaria means that we as faith leaders have failed. We didn’t realize malaria elimination was possible. But we can mobilize communities to eliminate malaria, and that is our task. We can do it, and we must do it.”
Like Bishop Msosa, the Right Reverend Erick Ruwona from the Diocese of Manicaland, Zimbabwe, serves in a country that is part of the SADC Elimination 8. He immediately began thinking practically about his own role: “Just as the rainy season begins and malaria increases, I can gather my clergy and help them understand why using nets and accepting spraying is so important. They can teach their congregations.”
The Rev. Canon Grace Kaiso, General Secretary of CAPA, closed by encouraging the bishops: “As a church, we are concerned about issues that affect the quality of life of people in our communities. I’m looking forward to hearing who of you begins putting a malaria-free diocese on your agenda.”
The orientation included bishops from seven Anglican Provinces within the Anglican Communion.