Zambian, Namibian, and Angolan Faith Leaders from FLAME—Faith Leader Advocacy for Malaria Elimination – Gather to Strategize around Accelerating Malaria Elimination through Advocacy

Lusaka, Zambia — Faith leaders from FLAME (Faith Leader Advocacy for Malaria Elimination) joined Ministry of Health officials and private sector leaders to strategize around accelerating the elimination of malaria in Zambia at FLAME’s annual Round Table. Against a backdrop of stalled global progress towards malaria elimination, leaders from the interfaith FLAME coalitions are acting with moral motivation and authority to advocate for the increased adoption, implementation, and funding of policies that accelerate malaria elimination.

FLAME leaders have become well equipped to advocate to key decision makers on behalf of the communities they represent, and have contributed to important policy changes and fundraising efforts for malaria elimination. Over the course of the two-day meeting, faith leaders from the national FLAME chapters of Zambia, Namibia, and Angola, as well as from ten provincial chapters in Zambia, presented their achievements, challenges, and future strategies for engaging communities, partnering with the government, and advocating to key decision makers to mobilize resources for malaria elimination.

As Sheikh Dr. Shaban Phiri of the Islamic Supreme Council of Zambia explained, “Our contribution as religious leaders is not simply to show solidarity with the scientific approach, but indeed it is an actualization of our religious teachings.” Mr. Jaden Jericho of the Baha’i Faith showed how the Lusaka Province FLAME Chapter has elevated the importance of malaria elimination through radio interviews on ZNBC 2, public marches and celebrations, education and fundraising within faith communities, and advocacy meetings with district commissioners and members of parliament.

The Right Revd. Albert Chama, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa, summarized FLAME’s intentions: “Faith leaders are committed to supporting the government….We are not coming as individual churches; rather, we are coming as faith leaders from different religions but with one united voice for malaria elimination, with the motivation that we need to save our fellow human beings from malaria.”

FLAME leaders celebrated the Zambian government’s doubling of its 2022 budget allocation for malaria commodities and programming compared to previous years, and urged even deeper investment in the essential prevention, treatment, and surveillance interventions that will lead to Zambia becoming malaria free.

Zambia’s National Malaria Elimination Centre presented the policy priorities and goals of the 2022-2026 National Malaria Strategic Plan. Additionally, all ten Provincial Health Departments presented on the state of malaria in their province, key next steps to move forward, and calls to action for faith leaders to support government malaria activities.

Government officials acknowledged that collaborating with FLAME Zambia’s 800 faith leaders is crucial to the success of the 2022-2026 Zambia National Malaria Strategic Plan. The Honourable Minister of Health Sylvia T. Masebo, MP, officially opened the meeting, noting that “Faith leaders are strategically placed to serve as a bridge between those giving technical guidance on how to eliminate malaria and those who must implement this technical guidance…and therefore they play a key role in ensuring that the whole community is engaged. The NMEC [National Malaria Elimination Centre] has worked with FLAME to train over faith leaders and establish 10 chapters in all 10 provinces of Zambia. We are pleased as the government to collaborate with FLAME Zambia and take them as key partners.”

Most of the 170 people who gathered for this Round Table represented Zambian FLAME coalition’s eight religious umbrella groups: the mother bodies of the Baha’i Faith; the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia – EFZ; the Independent Churches of Zambia – ICOZ; the Islamic Supreme Council of Zambia – ISCZ; the Council of Churches in Zambia – CCZ; the Seventh Day Adventist Church – SDA; the New Apostolic Church – NAC; and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops – ZCCB.

The Zambian faith leaders hosted colleagues from FLAME Namibia’s national steering committee and the Anglican Diocese of Namibia, as well as FLAME Angola representatives from Council of Christian Churches in Angola – CICA, the Anglican Diocese of Angola, and Caritas Angola.

Sharing action from neighbouring countries, Father Lasarus Ngube of the Anglican Diocese of Namibia shared that Namibia’s five Regional FLAME chapters have developed a close partnership with regional Malaria Elimination Task Forces, which are multi-sectorial government bodies established to advocate and mobilize resources for malaria elimination. Pastor Adriano Kilende of the Anglican Diocese of Angola, speaking on behalf of Angola’s FLAME chapters (whose 630 members represent 14 of Angola’s 18 provinces), described their broad-based advocacy for universal distribution and use of insecticide treated nets.

In the coming year, FLAME Zambia will work closely with Zambia’s NMEC to align its faith leader advocacy with the goals outlined in Zambia’s National Malaria Strategic Plan. To accelerate malaria elimination in the SADC Elimination 8 region, FLAME Zambia will also collaborate across borders with the Angolan and Namibian FLAME coalitions, in coordination with the Isdell: Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative.


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