The Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) is an advocacy and networking platform for Christian Health Associations (CHAs) and Church Health Networks from Sub-Saharan Africa. The platform was established through the inspiration and support of World Council of Churches in 2007. On May 4, 2012 ACHAP attained legal Registration as a Regional Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). The registration was issued by the Government of Kenya under the NGO Coordination Act of 1990 following the decision of the 5th Biennial CHAs Conference and General Assembly held in Accra in February 2011. ACHAP is led by a Board which reports to the General Assembly. The Board drives policy, strategy and advocacy and is assisted by Thematic Technical Working Groups (TWGs) comprising of various member CHAs.
In its Constitution ACHAP’s mission is defined as: “Inspired by Christ’s healing ministry, ACHAP supports Church related health associations and organizations to work and advocate for health for all in Africa, guided by equity, justice and human dignity.”
The purpose of ACHAP is to promote continued, effective and efficient engagement of Church Health Services in Africa towards achieving equitable access to quality health care among members of the Platform and in Africa at large. The operations of the Platform are coordinated by a Secretariat hosted by the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK) in Nairobi. The core mandate of ACHAP is to facilitate joint advocacy, networking and communication among Christian Health Associations and other Church Health Networks and partners in support of the Church health work in Africa.
The birth of ACHAP Secretariat
Christian Health Associations launch an ACHAP Secretariat during the ACHAP Biennial Conference in Bagamoyo, Tanzania
A platform for the Africa Christian Health Associations (ACHAP) was launched in January 2007 and a Secretariat set up in Nairobi, Kenya hosted by Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK). The decision to establish the platform was made during the CHAs Biennial Conference which was held on 16-18th January 2007 at the Paradise Resort in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. The platform includes a Secretariat hosted and supported by CHAK, which has a communication officer fluent in both English and French. Dr Samuel Mwenda, the General Secretary of CHAK has provided inspirational and strategic leadership which guided the establishment and rapid development of ACHAP as well as expansion of partnerships within Africa and internationally. CHAK has provided office space, administrative support and financial management since inception. CHAK also provided ACHAP a legal framework for its operations until it obtained its own legal registration in Kenya in May 2012, as an international NGO with mandate in Africa.
Through the inspiration and facilitation of WCC, the CHAs from Africa had created biennial conferences for networking, engagement and experience sharing beginning from the late 90s. In 2003, an ACHAP biennial conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya and focused on HIV/AIDS and Primary Health Care followed by another one in November 2004 held at Mangochi, Malawi on Health Care Financing and Public-Private-Partnership. In January 2007 the ACHAP’s biennial conference was hosted by CSSC at Bagamoyo in Tanzania and focused on the Human Resources for Health (HRH) retention crisis and Health Sector Reforms within the region.. During the deliberations at each of these conferences the similarities of the functions and challenges, facing CHAs was found to be striking.
The CHAs conferences have created rich fora for exchange of experiences, lessons learnt, documents and best practices. The networking and exchanges that take place both formally and informally in these meetings provide practical lessons that also serve as a source of inspiration. It is for this reason that the Bagamoyo CHAs meeting decided to strengthen the CHAs platform by establishing a Secretariat to support coordinate the activities of the network. This initiative was embraced by collaborating partners including WCC, DIFEAM, IMA, MMI, CCIH and EPN who committed to provide technical and financial support towards enabling the Secretariat to play a meaningful role for the CHAs Platform.
The CHAs from Africa present at the ACHAP Conference held in Bagamoyo, Tanzania came up with a declaration of commitment, which was also supported by the cooperating partner organizations present. One key commitment was to strengthen a Support Platform for all CHA’s in Africa through the establishment of a Secretariat in Nairobi to be hosted by CHAK that would improve networking and communication between CHA’s and associated organizations in Africa and elsewhere. CHAK accepted the request to lead the efforts of establishing and hosting this secretariat. The Secretariat was required to have capacity to facilitate communication in both English and French languages. WCC and DIFEAM provided the initial seed funding that facilitated the secretariat establishment. In subsequent years other partners came on board including ICCO, Misereor, Cordaid, and IMA –with USAID funding through the Capacity Project targeting HRH.