n estimated 84 percent of the world’s population is religiously affiliated, The Lancet writes. “Faith is a powerful force in the lives of individuals and communities worldwide.” And that force has a major impact on public health and health behavior.
With this in mind, the UK-based medical journal has published a series on Faith-based health care.
IMA World Health, which has been working with faith communities to advance health for more than 50 years, supported the series through its participation in the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. The JLI is a group of organizations and individuals that promote the development of evidence base for Faith Based Organizations. IMA is a member and part of the leadership through the Steering Group which authorized and supported the creation of the Lancet series.
IMA President and CEO Rick Santos commented, “I am pleased with this attention to the work and role of faith communities — who are central but often overlooked — in health care around the world. My hope is that through this series, along with the work and results of the recent Religion & Sustainable Development conference in DC, the global public health community will elevate the conversation around how to empower and leverage faith communities in the effort to advance health for all.”
The Lancet says its stories build on the “extensive experience, strengths, and capacities of faith-based organisations (e.g., geographical coverage, influence, and infrastructure) offers a unique opportunity to improve health outcomes.”
The series includes three articles and one story open to the public, accessible with free registration.
The articles and stories are as follows:
- Understanding the roles of faith-based health-care providers in Africa: review of the evidence with a focus on magnitude, reach, cost, and satisfaction. As the first report in the Series on faith-based health care, we review a broad body of published work and introduce some empirical evidence on the role of faith-based health-care providers, with a focus on Christian faith-based health providers in sub-Saharan Africa (on which the most detailed documentation has been gathered).
- Controversies in faith and health care. This Series paper outlines some faith-related controversies, describes how they influence health-care provision and uptake, and identifies opportunities for research and increased interaction between faith leaders and health-care providers to improve health care.
- Strengthening of partnerships between the public sector and faith-based groups. Drawing from both development and faith perspectives, this Series paper examines trends that could ground powerful, more sustainable partnerships and identifies new opportunities for collaboration based on respective strengths and existing models
- Faith-based organisations bolster health care in Rwanda. Collaboration between the health ministry and religious organisations played a substantial part in the recovery of Rwanda’s health system after the 1994 genocide. John Maurice reports.