“Since its establishment, the World Council of Churches has supported health work of the churches globally, by supporting establishing and strengthening of Christian health associations (CHAs) at national and regional levels, global advocacy, and other initiatives. In many cases these associations embrace health facilities belonging to all Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist churches. These institutions provide significant proportion of health care and health worker training, especially in the developing world. They are valued globally for their reach, access, trust and resilience.
But there is currently lack of data on the contribution of the Christian family to global health. Old data exist for 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and has provided an indication of the contribution of CHAs in this region, albeit incomplete and without clear indicators. There is also no central repository of critical data such as location of the church facilities/programmes, their range of services, populations served, etc.
Through a workshop on 10-11 October 2017, the World Council of Churches aims to discuss and develop a framework for mapping such data, guided by the following questions and considerations:
- Why collect the data? In light of the SDGs and the long history of medical missions, why do we want global data? How would such data be informative to churches (internal advocacy) and other development actors, e.g., governments, WHO (external advocacy)?
- What data should we collect? In light of existing DHIS-2 and several vertical programmes that are all streamlined from health facility up to WHO level, all of which include church health facilities, what additional data do we lack for the purpose(s) discussed above? What indicators should we collect?
- How should we collect it? Manual, internet questionnaire or smartphone App? Data collection teams or self-administered by health facility staff? Collect all the required data at once, or in stages (e.g., stages I – identifiers: name, location, proprietor church, contact details; stage II – catchment population, services offered, etc.) Start with a pilot?
- How should we manage the data base? How would CHAs, churches, WHO and partners access the data repository?
- How have previous initiatives to develop a similar database fared? What are the reasons that they are no longer updated or accessible? Any similar initiatives elsewhere to learn from?
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