Tony Blair Visits Ground-Breaking Multi-faith Malaria Initiative in Sierra Leone
07 Mar 2012
This afternoon, Tony Blair, joined in first hand with the work of his Faith Foundation's multi-faith malaria programme "Faiths Act in Sierra Leone". He visited local community members in Freetown alongside Christian and Muslim faith leaders delivering simple yet life saving malaria prevention messages to families.
Speaking about the power of multi-faith work, Tony Blair, said, "The people who can make this happen are those whom have authority in their local communities: Imams, Priests and Pastors, women and faith elders. What they say and recommend carries weight, especially here in Sierra Leone where most of the population go to the Church or Mosque on a regular basis".
Sierra Leone has a population of six million people and just 102 medics but in every village there are churches and mosques. The Tony Blair Faith Foundation is working to utilise these existing faith networks and infrastructure to turn bed net ownership into bed net usage.
The Foundation trains faith communities to visit households and show them how to use bed nets, and help reduce deaths from malaria. Despite being entirely preventable the disease still claims the lives of 750,000 people each year and in Sierra Leone, and is responsible for 1 in 3 of the deaths of children under 5.
Faiths Act in Sierra Leone addresses the preventable disease of malaria head on by training interfaith leaders how to teach about malaria prevention. Our unique training system creates a pyramid training structure - a small number of faith leaders are trained in malaria prevention, these vital health messages are then passed onto congregants who carry out household to household visits delivering simple, practical advice throughout the country.
So far, over 62,000 households have been visited, reaching over 310,000 people, demonstrating the reach that faith communities have in spreading important and life-saving messages in areas of the country where bed nets are not used correctly.
Speaking personally about her involvement in the Faiths Act in Sierra Leone initiative, Reverend Christiana Sutton-Koroma, said: "It is an eye opener creating more opportunities to educate the community on the importance of using a bed net. I can attest that using a net has helped me and family. Before we were not using the net properly and now, it has been a long time since my children, husband and I have been ill."
While in Sierra Leone, Tony Blair also paid tribute to the organisations and faith leaders who have helped put the initiative together, including Sheikh Abu Bakar Conteh, Rev Usman Fornah, Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles, Dr Walter Carew and Betty Sam.
Check out the latest statistics and more information about our work in Sierra Leone on our website.