Faith-Based Organizations: Serving and Uniting the Health Sector

Friends Kaimosi HospitalRecently on the HIFA2015 listserv there has been discussion on the role of mission and faith-based health care facilities in the developing world. Statistics vary from country to country, and even region to region within a country, but the most common statistic for countries in sub-Saharan Africa is that mission and faith-based health facilities provide approximately 40-70% of health care.

Rural and isolated areas

As has been noted, these mission and faith-based health facilities have a long history of providing services in the most rural and isolated parts of the countries—places where government health care personnel often aren’t.

Great strides have been made over the past several years to strengthen the collaboration between the national health systems and the mission and faith-based health care provision through both awareness-raising and the signing of memoranda of understanding—for interventions specific to strengthening health care provision while maintaining the autonomy of mission and faith-based health care facilities. Although it is important to note that just because an intervention works in one country/region doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work in another.

The role of faith-based organizations
Many countries have umbrella organizations—often Christian Health Associations (CHAs)—that work directly with the mission and faith-based health care facilities to:

  • Provide training for health care professionals
  • Assist in resource development
  • Serve as a voice to the national government to advocate for the needs of their member health facilities.

CHAs often represent the Christian voice of health care provision, however in some countries there are separate umbrella organizations for Protestant, Catholic, and Evangelical denominations. The Muslim community often has an umbrella organization for its health care facilities as well. And in many countries, the multiple umbrella organizations are working as a unified voice to present their needs to the national government.

Linking our work
CapacityPlus is working with the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform and its Technical Working Group on Human Resources for Health as it works with the various umbrella organizations across the continent. The Platform and Technical Working Group work to link together CHAs from country to country, and help to share approaches and lessons learned in order to strengthen the relationship and collaboration between the national government and mission and faith-based health care providers.

In January 2011, the Platform will participate in the Second Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, working to increase the visibility of the impact of mission and faith-based health care facilities. In addition, in February 2011 the Platform will hold the 5th Biennial Christian Health Associations Meeting in Accra, Ghana. This forum will be an opportunity for the CHAs from across sub-Saharan Africa to come together and share. 


Photo by Trevor Snapp. (Friends Kaimosi Hospital, Kaimosi, Kenya)