09/15/19 19:30:59

Role of the church

When Christian’s past thoughts, that only trained health professionals can be involved in health services, it is possible to see many opportunities for ‘ordinary’ people – and particularly people of faith – to respond to God’s call to be involved in the work of healing the world. This work of healing the world is a key task for Christians, working together in churches around the world.

Local churches are well placed to bring hope to the health needs of the poorest people. There is clear evidence showing that the most effective health care (particularly for the poorest people suffering from preventable diseases) is done at home. In many cultures this is undertaken by untrained women and men who are expected to do most of the caring – but often they are unaware of basic prevention, treatment and care information. The Church can play a vital role in improving the knowledge, attitudes and practices of women and men in the poorest communities.

Both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ dynamics are required for mobilisation. It may start with international and national leaders, but any long-lasting sustainability will depend on continuing community participation. Professor Carl Taylor – a dynamic, medical doctor in his 90s with a lifetime of experience in health services for the poorest people – argues that both ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ need to play their part.

‘Community energy seldom mobilises by itself. Communities need help from officials, who can adjust policies and regulations, facilitate cooperation among factions, and channel essential resources. Communities also need help from experts, who can build capacity and skills by training, introduce new ideas and techniques, and help monitor change, ideally bringing multiple perspectives – academic, business and non-governmental – to the process. Progress comes from collaborative bottom-up (community), top-down (officials), and outside-in (experts) activity, with no one sector deciding that it alone is ‘in charge’. Professor Taylor’s concept can be adapted to reveal the important role that faith-based organisations like this.

It highlights the vital impact and role that Faith Based Organisation – with strong connections and relationships in the community – can play as mediators. When these creative relationships flourish, a dynamic ‘people energy’ is generated at every level. These ways of respectful working together are essential if sustainable health improvements are to be achieved by the poorest communities.