MA World Health is excited to attend and participate in the 7th biennial conference of the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) Feb. 23 to 26 in Nairobi, Kenya. ACHAP is holding the conference in collaboration with the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK) and with support from various health development partners.
The theme of this year’s conference is “The role of faith based health services in contributing to universal health coverage in Africa.”
As a faith-based organization (FBO), IMA believes that all people are children of God and thus deserve to lead healthy and productive lives. And we have a long history of implementing projects in African nations to uphold this.
Founded in 1960 as a joint health ministry of six mainline Protestant relief and development agencies, partnerships with faith-based organizations remain a core value for IMA and these relationships make us better able to advance health, healing and well-being for all.
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.
IMA is also involved in a number of global advocacy initiatives for faith and development. It is the founder of the WeWillSpeakOut.US movement, which connects diverse faith groups across the US with other leaders for action and advocacy to end the silence surrounding sexual and gender based violence.
From IMA’s perspective, the role of faith-based organizations is one that is based on the Christian call to serve one another. That means working together with different denominations and respecting all faith traditions. After all, we have the same vision, and we can do more by working in collaboration.
IMA World Health is a key partner of ACHAP, an advocacy and networking platform improving knowledge sharing and joint learning among Christian Health Associations (CHAs) and Church Health Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa.
CHA networks have a long history of working within developing countries to provide health care services to populations in need, and they form the integral link between the Ministry of Health and the faith-based health care facilities.
IMA has and continues to work to strengthen the capacity of ACHAP and the CHA network through various project initiatives.
We recorded some panel discussions during the event. They were: