The Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) concluded its 7th biennial conference in Nairobi, Kenya on Feb. 26.
“This couldn’t have been a more exciting event for ACHAP, as we advance our vision of ‘Health and Healing for all in Africa’ to ensure that all people can access and utilize the health services they need without financial constraints,” said Karen Sichinga, ACHAP Board Chair and Executive Director of the Christian Health Association of Zambia.
The conference brought together 120 people representing 63 health-related organizations including churches, donors and faith-based organizations (FBOs) to discuss the role of faith-based health services in contributing to universal health coverage in Africa.
Below are highlights of the commitments the African Christian Health Associations (CHAs) have made during the conference:
- Work toward health systems strengthening, in line with six World Health Organization building blocks as an interlinked system involving the community level as a crucial component.
- Continue to strengthen partnerships with local communities and local faith leaders and networks.
- Work in partnership with each other, development partners, the private sector, governments and other health sector partners to ensure their needs and operating environments are understood and that they receive and give the requisite support to achieve universal health care in Africa.
- Strengthen inter-CHA and inter-faith collaborations at country and regional level.
“IMA VALUES THE CHRISTIAN HEALTH ASSOCIATIONS AND OUR INVOLVEMENT WITH ACHAP. THE CHRISTIAN HEALTH ASSOCIATIONS PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN PROVIDING HEALTH CARE TO SO MANY IN AFRICA.”
— Rick Santos, IMA World Health President and CEO
IMA has and continues to work to strengthen the capacity of ACHAP and the CHA network through various project initiatives.
Highlights of IMA’s engagement with faith-based organizations include strengthening human resources for health, health service delivery, emergency response, behavioral change and communication, and HIV/AIDS response. We also work to strengthen mapping of FBO assets and global advocacy.
Key examples include our work under the USAID-funded CapacityPlus Project. IMA helps build FBOs’ ability to manage their health workforces effectively for optimal performance and improved health service delivery. IMA works in partnership with the ACHAP, an advocacy and networking membership group of Christian health associations and church networks. The project promotes improved integration of FBO policies, procedures, and HRM systems with Ministries of Health systems for better HR management, retention, and productivity.
Our work in health service delivery includes strengthening 20 Anglican health facilities under the Anglican Health Services project in Eastern Congo. In response to a needs assessment, IMA supported health centers to improve the quality and availability of critical health services by training health service providers, providing essential medical supplies and equipment, and renovating drug depots.
As part of our emergency response efforts, IMA recently worked with the Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL) to respond to the Ebola outbreak. Through this support, CHAL was able to run an awareness campaign using radio messaging and sound trucks beginning in June 2014 to educate communities in Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties (the most affected) on the virus and how to receive treatment.
To improve behavioral change and communication, IMA has developed sermon guides for religious and traditional leaders as a tool to promote healthy behaviors. Funded by USAID, IMA’s Sermon Guides have reached both Christian and Muslim populations with evidenced-based messages on maternal, neonatal, and child health (MNCH) and on malaria prevention and treatment in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Meanwhile, under the new USAID-funded global Strengthening High Impact Interventions for an AIDS-Free Generation (AIDSFree) Project, IMA leverages influential faith-based leaders and communities to create positive behavior change and build FBO capacity as HIV service delivery providers for improved HIV/AIDS/TB outcomes.
As part of our efforts to capture the faith-based contribution to health care delivery and to support integration with national information systems, IMA developed the Health Facilities & Human Resources Geographic Information System in Tanzania in collaboration with CSSC. The HR-GIS contains a relational database with a variety of information on more than 850 FBO health facilities and 15,000 personnel throughout all 21 regions of Tanzania.