SOURCE: Compassion International

March 10, 2008 14:38 ET

Compassion International Issues Call for Help in Fighting Malaria

Ministry's President, Recording Artist Say Disease Can Be Defeated

NASHVILLE, TN--(Marketwire - March 10, 2008) - Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International, and Christian recording artist Rebecca St. James issued a passionate appeal Saturday, March 8 for people to join the fight to eradicate malaria in impoverished countries. Stafford and St. James spoke at a joint press conference at the 2008 Convention of the National Association of Religious Broadcasters.

Compassion, a leading Christian child-development and sponsorship organization, has a Malaria Intervention Fund that provides Compassion-assisted families with insecticide-mosquito nets, treatment for those infected with disease, insecticide-home treatment and education on malaria prevention.

Stafford said that 9 out of 10 cases of malaria can be prevented by mosquito nets; a net treated with insecticide costs only $10. Medical treatment and education are similarly inexpensive.

"The real tragedy of malaria is it's completely preventable and completely treatable," he said. "A lot of poverty is overwhelming. This is something we can win, if we have the heart, if we have the will."

Stafford, the son of missionaries, grew up in the Ivory Coast.

"As a little boy, I had malaria two or three times a year," he said. "I was one of the lucky ones. I survived it. A lot of my little friends didn't survive."

St. James will host Compassion's half-hour radio special, "Malaria: A Plague of the Poor," to be released on April 25, 2008, World Malaria Day, as designated by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. The special will feature stories of African families affected by the disease, which kills more than 1 million people each year. More than 750,000 of those deaths are children in Africa.

"When I heard that, I was shocked," she said.

The Grammy Award-winning St. James has been a spokesperson for Compassion for more than a decade. Her work has led to the sponsorship of more than 30,000 of the world's neediest children.

"My hope is that caring believers who hear the radio special will understand the plight of the poor when it comes to malaria," she said. "Here in the United States, we don't even think twice about malaria or its effects on us. Mothers and fathers don't go to bed every night worrying about whether something as small as a mosquito will change their lives or, even worse, steal life from their babies. Families living in developing countries deserve that same kind of assurance."

Any interested radio station can broadcast the special by e-mailing its request to youcan@us.ci.org.

Compassion works with more than 65 denominations and more than 4,500 indigenous church partners. It serves more than 1 million children in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Since 1952, Compassion has touched the lives of more than 1.8 million children and has been recognized for its financial integrity with top ratings and recommendations by several of the nation's leading not-for-profit "watchdog" organizations.

For information on contributing to the Malaria Intervention Fund or sponsoring a child, visit Compassion online at www.compassion.com or call (800) 336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MDT.

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