|African Bishop Says Efforts Against Diseases Require Literacy and Nutrition|
by Elliott Wright*
Fort Worth, TX, April 29, 2008--Preventing and controlling the diseases of poverty must include efforts to increase nutritional standards and literacy, according to a United Methodist bishop who has worked for years to improve health standards in his native Mozambique.
Bishop João Somane Machado talked with reporters at a press conference on the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund. He said that, in the African context, the ravages of AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis--often termed the diseases of poverty--are related and intensified by nutritional and educational deficiencies.
"Poor nutrition causes people to be weak," he said. "If they are HIV-infected, they are much more likely to die if they contract malaria or TB. Too many people are not literate and cannot read about health issues."
Bishop Machado went on to explain that The United Methodist Church in Mozambique attempts to address the combination of factors that intensify the diseases of poverty. He said that much of this ministry is done in collaboration with other denominations and religious groups.
The day following the press conference, the General Conference reaffirmed the Global AIDS Fund, first authorized in 2004. The goal is $8 million over an eight-year period. At least $4 million will be raised by the end of 2008, according to Bishop Fritz Mutti (retired) who, along with his wife, Etta Mae, chair the committee that oversees the fund.
The bishop said at the April 27 press conference that $2.5 million has been raised so far, and that the $4 million goal will be reached by the end of the year.
The fund makes grants to AIDS projects around the world. Money is raised through the annual (regional) conferences. The conferences can retain 25% of what they raise to fund domestic AIDS programs.
To date, according to figures distributed at the press conference, the North Carolina Conference has raised the largest amount, some $832,000 for ZOE, or the Zimbabwe Orphan Endeavor. ("Zoe" is the Greek word for "life.")
The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund is a church-wide project involving many of the United Methodist program agencies. The General Board of Global Ministries makes and monitors the grants. The General Board of Church and Society does advocacy and education on public policy affecting AIDS.
The General Board of Discipleship recently prepared a devotional guide in multiple languages, Prayers for Encouragement, in the same format as the popular Upper Room, for persons living with HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other serious diseases. The prayers are published in ten languages.
*Elliott Wright is the public information officer of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Apr 29, 2008