Tony Blair Visits Pioneering Interfaith Malaria Initiative in Nigeria
ABUJA, Nigeria, Feb. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — This afternoon Tony Blair participated in the work of the largest Muslim-Christian alliance in Africa led by the Nigerian Inter-Faith Action Association (NIFAA), with funding support from the Nigerian government, the World Bank, the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty (CIFA), and other international funders. He also met with Sultan of Sokoto Muhammed Sa’adu Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto and Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, NIFAA’s two co-Chairs.
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NIFAA was organized by Nigeria’s top faith leaders with foundational and technical support from the Washington-based development organisation CIFA, whose founder and Chairman Ed Scott hosted Mr. Blair during the visit. Mr. Blair took time to support this pioneering initiative because his Faith Foundation shares its goals for systematic action and results on the ground.
At Kuje Town Hall, Mr. Blair engaged in the first state training for 200 Nigerian religious leaders from the Federal Capital Territory. The training focused on the causes and prevention of malaria and the role of faith leaders in working with their congregants to deliver key malaria prevention messages about how to turn net ownership into net use. The training session was led by NIFAA in partnership with the National Malaria Control Programme, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and CIFA.
“It is fantastic to see the great training work being carried out by NIFAA. It is the work of Muslim and Christian faith leaders on the ground in Nigeria – multi-faith collaboration about shared goals – that is at the heart of the work of my Faith Foundation. When faith communities collaborate and work together for justice and human development there is a double pay off: things get done and respect and understanding between them grows. I hope that this work will be replicated in other parts of the developing world.
“This model of interfaith action can be readily adopted to join the faith and public sectors in other developing countries, if governments and funders are willing to provide external support to make this a reality. Thank you to CIFA and its partner organisations for all your efforts to make this event such a success,” said Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
To date, NIFAA represents the most systematic engagement of the faith community anywhere in the world working in coordinated action against poverty and disease and is a powerful example of how all faith communities can work together on a common health goal. The model illustrates the enormous potential for faith communities’ integration into national healthcare systems across the world.
“It is time for all of us to work together through our different faith traditions on this common crisis of malaria. Muslims and Christians coming together to fight a common cause is of importance to us, because we believe that the mosquito does not know religion.” Statement of Muhammed Sa’adu Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and co-Chair, NIFAA.
Through NIFAA, the interfaith community is working closely with Nigeria’s National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to ensure the full mobilization of the faith sector in support of Nigeria’s national malaria campaign in accordance the Millennium Development Goals. Nigeria accounts for 25 percent of the malaria burden in sub-Saharan Africa. The NIFAA model will soon be replicated in other developing countries such as Liberia and will grow to address other health concerns.
The NMCP aims to reduce malaria-related morbidity 50 percent by 2010 and minimize the socio-economic impact of the disease through a package of interventions for malaria treatment and prevention. These include a massive state- by- state roll-out of insecticide-treated bednets — over 60 million nets distributed to 30 million households by the end of 2010.
“We are now faced with an extraordinary opportunity to turn the world’s positive attention to this major health intervention that our hundreds of thousands of faith leaders are carrying out alongside the national government.” Statement of Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, president, the Christian Association of Nigeria and co-Chair, NIFAA.
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF) established a memorandum of understanding with the Washington-based development organisation CIFA in 2009 due to significant overlap of the two organizations’ work. Ed Scott, said that the organsiations’ common aims to “harness the power of faith communities and faith-based organisations working together to combat malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and their joint collaboration on TBFF’s Faiths Act Fellows Programme, make this a unique global partnership.” Ed Scott, Founder and Chairman, CIFA.
About the Tony Blair Faith Foundation
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation was founded by the Rt Honourable Tony Blair and launched in May 2008. The Foundation’s goals are to promote respect and understanding between people of faith and those of none, show the relevance of faith to the challenges of the 21st century, make the case for faith as a force for good by encouraging multi-faith action to tackle global poverty and conflict. The TBFF approach is highly collaborative with an emphasis on action and innovation in education and dialogue. Please visit www.tonyblairfaithfoundation.org
About the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty
The Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty, was founded by development philanthropist Edward Scot in September 2008. CIFA’s mission is to improve the capacity and effectiveness of the faith community in its collective effort to reduce poverty and disease. Operating at the intersection of faith and development, CIFA is committed to harnessing the potential of the faith sector as a positive force for global development. CIFA does this through increased interfaith coordination, best practices and model sharing, innovative mobilization of resources, and influential advocacy to governments and the general public. Please visit www.cifa.org
SOURCE The Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty