Cornwall’s regional coordinator for Christian Aid has welcomed an announcement by the Government that it will match every pound raised in Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal, which could help prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths from malaria.

At a time of year when Christians around the world celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, thousands of families in Nigeria are longing for a precious gift, that of life, and coordinator Chris Jadav is appealing to churches and groups to back the appeal.

Worldwide a child dies of malaria every 60 seconds. Malaria cases in Nigeria account for a quarter of all malaria cases across the continent, killing an estimated 250,000 children under the age of five every year.

Pregnant women with malaria are vulnerable too with a higher risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, stillbirth, severe anaemia and delivering babies with low-birth weight – a leading cause of child mortality.

The UK Government will match every donation made to the Christmas Appeal between November 6 and February 5 up to a total of £5m and Christian Aid has prepared a range of resources to help parishes engage with the appeal, including an alternative nativity, prayers, reflections and decorations.

Chris said: “We are delighted to receive the support of UKAid Match. No child should die from a preventable disease.

“Christian Aid and our partners are training volunteers to become Community Health Agents, who meet the immediate health needs of the community as far as they are able, identifying health priorities and highlighting issues such as low drug stock and lack of fully qualified medical staff to local government.

“Ultimately the Nigerian government must be accountable for the provision of public education, nets and effective treatment. By supporting communities to meet their own needs and advocate for additional help where required, Christian Aid and our partners can help people get what they are entitled to and stop yet more people dying needlessly from malaria.

“Last year, congregations across the country helped to raise more than £3.65 million for the Christmas appeal.

“This Christmas and Advent we would love to see every Cornwall church involved in some way – whether by giving, acting or praying so that together we can help prevent many thousands of unnecessary deaths from malaria.”

In Ora-Eri, south-eastern Nigeria, Christian Aid partner organisation Aguata Diocesan Community Human Services (AD-CHUS) is providing life-saving mosquito nets and a public education programme delivered by trained community health agents. Community Development Committees have been set up to ensure the government provides quality healthcare and free malaria treatments to clinics.

International Development Secretary, Justine Greening said: “A quarter of a million children under five die needless and preventable deaths from Malaria each year in Nigeria.

“By matching the UK public’s donations to Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal, we can double the number of community health workers who we educate, train and equip in Benue State in Nigeria.

“That means 600,000 children and young women will receive advice, information and treatment for malaria and other preventable but potentially life threatening diseases.

“By tackling these problems at their root, we will not only save many lives but take some of the pressure off overstretched health facilities. We can help create a safer and more prosperous Nigeria.”

Churches across Cornwall are beginning to plan services and events in support of the appeal. Among them will be Truro Cathedral’s ‘Big Sing’ on Friday 11th December at 7.30pm, Pelynt’s Christian Aid Carol Service at 7pm on 4th December in Pelynt Village Hall to which everyone is welcome. Schools in Newquay will also be raising their voices in aid of the appeal.

Just £3 could buy a life-saving net and £60 could train three community health workers to deliver the nets and life-saving health advice in their local area.

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