Maximizing private, faith-based health networks for primary care
Investing in strengthening the capacity of local faith-based health networks to provide quality primary health care services would be a cost-effective solution, especially to reach remote communities. Private, faith-based health partners provide key infrastructure, community outreach and health care service delivery where needed most in a health system, contributing significantly to equitable access to health care. Ministries of health around the world already trust and rely heavily on them to fill gaps in health services. For example, in many African countries facing extreme shortages of health workers, faith-based organizations (FBOs), like Christian Health Associations (CHAs), are estimated to provide between 30 – 70% of health care services. Recent mapping of a sample of 22 Christian health networks in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa shows 8,355 reported health assets. Of these assets, 95% are health service providers, including national-level hospitals, district-level hospitals, health centers, clinics and community programs.
Local heath FBOs, by nature of their religious affiliation, are often more trusted in rural communities. They are well-positioned to positively change entrenched health care seeking attitudes and behaviors which are greatly influenced by socio-cultural, religious and traditional practices. In addition to meeting the physical health needs of individuals, health FBOs also strive to treat the person holistically – looking after their mental, social and spiritual well-being, which is a fundamental approach of primary health care and integral to achieving universal health coverage and people-centered health care.