Washington DC: Religious groups could play a vital role in tackling global health challenges, claims a new research.
A new Series based on faith-based health care argues that building on the extensive experience,strengths, and capacities of faith-based organisations (eg, geographical coverage, influence, and infrastructure) offers a unique opportunity to improve health outcomes, especially for poor and marginalised groups.
Study's author and Professor Edward Mills from Global Evaluative Sciences in Vancouver explained that religious groups have been major players in the delivery of healthcare, particularly in hard-to-reach and rural areas that are not adequately served by government.
The available evidence indicates that faith-based health providers play an important part in meeting public health needs such as immunisation, antimalarial campaigns, preventing mother and child deaths, and HIV services, especially in fragile health systems. For example, in Sierra Leone, Muslim and Christian leaders led a UNICEF campaign which increased immunisation rates in children under one year old from six to 75 percent . During the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, faith groups were key mediators of community education, especially safe burial, while providing vital medical services and support.
With more support from governments, donors, and international faith networks, the movement could rapidly scale up to reach millions of people with critical health issues, wrote the authors.
The study is published in The Lancet.