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Church Aims To Wipe Out Malaria, One Net At A Time

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77642_Reg Chapman Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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CBS Minnesota (con't)

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By Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On this Easter, the Episcopal Church in Minnesota wants to save millions of lives. They hope to raise enough money to buy treated anti-malarial nets to stop the spread of the disease.

Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease that kills more than a million people a year, mostly children. The church’s Mission Project 2011 officially ended Sunday, the day before World Malaria Day.

The goal of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota is to be a part of the movement dedicated to having near zero deaths by malaria in the next four years.

People who know about Malaria first-hand hope the campaign to end this worldwide disease is successful.

“It wasn’t that much of a big deal for us,” said Austin Ihiekwe.

As child, Ihiekwe said getting malaria in his native Nigeria was like catching the common cold here in the U.S.

“Right from childhood, you would get it at least once a month,” said Ihiekwe.

Ihiekwe said the medication is available to combat the disease but only for those who can afford it.

Many die but most could be saved if they had the proper tools of prevention like anti-malarial nets.

“Every year 250 million people are affected with malaria worldwide, 90 percent of those people are in Africa and every year one million people die from malaria, most of them children,” said Wendy Johnson.

Johnson said the goal is for every Episcopalian in the state to purchase a net, each costing $12.

The campaign hopes to end with the collection of more than $235,000 to buy just over 19,000 anti-malarial nets.

“We’ve decided that this is something that’s solvable, that does not need to be happening and so we’ve set out to, throughout lent, to collect money to purchase nets,” said Johnson.

The Episcopal Church hopes to be a part of history — a movement to wipe out this worldwide disease in four years.

Ihiekwe said the disease spreads quickly once you’re bitten by a mosquito.

“You get chills and then one second you’re sweating and then you get chills again. It just goes back and forth,” said Ihiekwe.

He said your senses are sharp but your physical being is totally wasted.

“I lost a brother that way. That’s a little too emotional for me,” Ihiekwe said.

He hopes the churches efforts are enough to keep people from falling prey to malaria in Africa.

Each Episcopal Church in Minnesota will report their collections to the Bishop on Monday. That’s when they will know how many anti-malarial nets they will be able to buy and how many lives they will save.

The campaign has officially ended but it’s not too late to help. Click on the link below for more information on their mission.
Malaria Nets for Africa

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