The Africa Christian Health Association Platform (ACHAP) was established in 2007 as an advocacy and networking platform for improving knowledge sharing and joint learning among CHAs and Church Health Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa. CHA networks have a long history of working within developing countries to provide health care services to populations in need, and they form the integral link between the Ministry of Health and the faith-based health care facilities. ACHAP provides the framework for a collaborative network with a cohesive voice to advocate for equitable access to quality health care. ACHAP also provides the knowledge and skills for member facilities to deliver better care for their clientele. Currently, ACHAP’s membership includes 43 CHAs in 32 countries.
With the adoption of a new constitution and registration as an International NGO in May 2012 in Nairobi Kenya and hosted by the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK), ACHAP began establishing formal organizational structures to better serve its members. The process started in October 2012 through an institutional assessment that informed the need for the Platform to focus on five key objectives that will better equip the Platform as a network organization with strong capacity to provide the following functions:
- Advocating and Lobbying
- Negociating and Contracting
- Supporting members
- Coordinating and Synergy
- Leadership and Value building
Committed to achieve its mission and vision as well as continuously support its members , ACHAP is currently leading the following activities:
ACHAP 2019 CONFERENCE HELD IN YAOUNDE, CAMEROON
Public health leaders from Christian Health Associations (CHAs) in Africa and partners from Europe and the USA met in February (25th -1st March) during the ACHAP 9th biennial conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon, hosted by our member the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS). The theme of the conference was “Re-igniting Primary Health Care: The role of ACHAP.”
A total of 153 delegates from more than 20 countries in Africa, USA and Europe attended the conference. The conference program included workshops, skills building kiosks, plenary and breakout sessions. Under the PHC theme, a range of topics from maternal & child health, WASH in health care settings, partnerships, health finances, health technology as well as mental health and anti-microbial resistance (AMR).
Presentations from the conference can be found on the ACHAP website under conferences. The conference was also attended by USAID officials Dr. Monique Wubbernhorst and Melisa Freeman who provided delegates with much-needed updates on engagement with US government agencies for funding.
ACHAP LAUNCHES HIV COUNSELLING GUIDE FOR RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN KENYA
The Africa Christian Health Associations Platform has launched an HIV counseling guide for religious leaders. The guide aims at helping religious leaders to provide much-needed support to congregants as they try to cope with issues related to HIV and AIDS. The guide was launched during a colorful ceremony in Nairobi attended by religious leaders from the Muslim, Hindu and Christian faiths. The guide was developed by ACHAP in partnership with the National AIDS Control Council (NACC), Inerela-Kenya, CHAK, SUPKEM, The SDA Church, National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), IMA World Health, St Paul’s University, Organisation of African Instituted Churches and Evangelical Alliance of Kenya. The religious leaders noted that the guide would equip and empower them to support people living with HIV&AIDS. Speakers at the forum pointed out that psychosocial support for people living with HIV&AIDS was an important component of treatment and encouraged the religious leaders present to recommend the guide to their colleagues.
The HIV/AIDS counseling guide for religious leaders is:
– Considerate of the full spectrum of client needs – the physical, psychological and socio-economic – with the goal of enabling him or her to attain optimal physical, mental and social health and functioning
– Appreciative of the role of ongoing support, including information, to help avoid transmission to others
– Cognisant of the place of science in HIV/AIDS but continues to support people using religious tools that they already ascribe to
– Respecting individual religious convictions and beliefs of people seeking counseling and therefore in no way seeks to proselytize.
The guide was developed following the realisation that religious leaders, although strategically positioned for HIV and AIDS counseling, do not necessarily have adequate skills to fully meet the needs and expectations of congregants who seek such services from them. The guide will also be useful in helping to tackle the continued problem of faith healing.
Following the launch, trainings will be held for religious leaders to help them use the guide effectively. So far 104 religious leaders have been trained. The guide is available on the ACHAP website.
ACHAP CHAMPIONS FOR WASH IN HEALTH CARE FACILITIES
In June 2018, representatives from five Christian Health Associations (CHAs) participated in a training on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities (HCF), hosted by the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) and conducted by Emory University. Participants who join the training are those responsible for quality assurance, infrastructure, financing, and the coordination of medical care. This was the first time these CHAs had received training on WASH in HCF. The primary objective of the training was to demonstrate the importance of WASH as it relates to the provision of quality of care. Additionally, participants were trained on the use of Emory University’s WASHCon tool, which assesses WASH conditions in HCF. The training concluded with each CHA drafting an action plan.
The newly minted WASH in HCF Champions also created a WhatsApp group to stay connected as they implemented WASH in HCF activities. Returning to home, each pair of representatives conducted assessments in 10 to 15 HCF run by their CHA. Prioritizing needs, an incremental improvement plan was developed which was financed in part through seed funding (approximately $6,000/CHA) from Water lines an organization led by philanthropist and WASH champion David Douglas. In February 2019 at the ACHAP Biennial Meeting, the participants were reunited to report on progress, share experiences and discuss barriers and solutions. Key challenges identified were the limitations of funding and the need for further awareness in order to drive prioritization of the issue.
The WASH in HCF Champions then presented their work to new CHAs and partners at the Biennial meeting in Cameroon. See a full report of ACHAP’s WASH efforts on our website here.
CAPACITY BUILDING & NETWORKING
One of ACHAP’s core mandates is to provide a platform for networking for member Christian Health Associations. ACHAP also seeks to build the capacity of its members in various aspects of health systems strengthening. During the 1st quarter of 2019, three (3) CHAs had an opportunity to visit with other CHAs and exchange ideas, discuss best practices and have practical experience on areas of their interest. These visits were made possible through the UNAIDS-PEPFAR faith initiative that ACHAP is part of as an implementing partner.
CHAN visit to Kenya
The Christian Health Association of Nigeria (CHAN) visited Kenya between the 25th -31st March.
The meeting was attended by public health leaders from governments, UN & donor agencies, as well as the private sector. ACHAP’s chairman Peter Yeboah and board member Dr. Mwai Makoka attended the meeting as we continue to advocate for the inclusion of the faith sector in global health issues.
Kenya ACHAP members visit their Uganda colleagues
Representatives from MEDS, KCCB and CHAK had an opportunity to visit their colleagues in Uganda during the 1st week of April. The team was also accompanied by the ACHAP coordinator who is based in Kenya. They interacted with UCMB, UPMB and JMS of Uganda. As well as had the opportunity to visit Kisiizi Hospital a UPMB affiliated facility and Karoli Lwanga Hospital, Nyakibale a UCMB affiliated facility.
The Kenya team was interested in learning from Uganda on their experience with their inter bureau coalition (IBC) which is a coalition of faith-based health bureaus in Uganda that include the Muslim and orthodox bureaus. IBC has had the opportunity to jointly bid on grants.
The team also wanted to borrow from Uganda’s success in community health insurance and hence the visit to the health facilities. The visit to JMS main campus and branches provided an opportunity to further exchange ideas on the practicability of the decentralized supply chain which JMS among the DSOs is the first to implement.
DRC team invited to the CHAK AGM
The Democratic Republic of Congo is yet to formally have a national CHA. ACHAP and the WCC have come together to faith-based health players on the table towards this agenda. A national CHA, we believe is a great platform for these organisations to network, advocate, share & build each other’s capacity as well as gain visibility on a national, regional and global level.
The deliberations towards a national outfit are at an advanced stage and the committee sent three of its members to the CHAK Annual general meeting and Health Conference (AGM&HC) to learn best practices from them. The team had an opportunity to interact directly with hundreds of delegates from CHAK’s member health facilities that attended the conference. The team also visited the KCCB offices and had an opportunity to interact with the team from the health commission led by Ms. Jacinta Mutegi the national executive secretary of the health commission. They were received and welcomed to KCCB by the deputy secretary general Rev. Fr. Lucas Manwa. The team also had a chance to visit the MEDS offices & warehouses and have experience in supply chain management as well as visit the PCEA Kikuyu hospital for a feel of health service delivery in Kenya.
ACHAP was engaged in various advocacy efforts during the quarter.
WHO AFRICA HEALTH FORUM, Praia, Cabo Verde, 26–28 March 2019.
The Government of Cabo Verde and WHO Regional Office for Africa hosted the second WHO Africa forum on health in Praia between the 26th & 28th of March. The theme was ‘Achieving Universal Health Coverage and Health Security in Africa: The Africa We Want To See.’
AMR DISCUSSIONS AT THE PONTIFICAL
Anti-microbial resistance continues to be a global challenge. Faith-based health providers are an integral partner in the AMR agenda. Towards strengthening FBO engagement the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs with support from GHR foundation hosted a two-day workshop at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome on April 7-8, 2019.
The workshop focused on helping participants understand the problem of AMR, its intersection with the work of FBO health providers and suggestion on approaches they can use to address key drivers of the AMR crisis in their context. Participants were then able to develop an action plan to tackle AMR as they support national and global efforts from their respective settings.
Drs. Mirfin, Mwai and Tonny represented ACHAP’s members EPN, WCC and UPMB respectively.
ACHAP and CHA-NIGERIA HOLD TOT TO ELIMINATE HIV STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION AT HEALTH FACILITIES
ACHAP in partnership with the Christian Health Association of Nigeria (CHAN) in July worked with 20 mission health facilities in 4 states of Nigeria (Benue, Plateau, Enugu and Oyo) towards the elimination of HIV-related stigma and discrimination at health facilities. Thirty-nine health workers and religious leaders (from sponsor congregations of the health facilities) were trained as Trainers of Trainers (TOTs) with the aim of passing on the information to health workers and sponsor congregations. Three states of Nigeria were trained as TOTs with health workers on HIV protocols and stigma and discrimination towards eliminating stigma and discrimination in health care settings of the CHAN network. The training was also supported by Nigeria Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Inerela+ Nigeria, and Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN).
ACHAP IN DRC
ACHAP participated in the Interfaith Consultation Workshop on Femininity and Masculinity with youth, teachers as well as religious leaders organized by World Council of Churches. ACHAP’s agenda also included starting conversations with our members in the Democratic Republic of Congo on creating a national Christian Health Association platform in DRC. A five-member committee was formed to pilot the creation of CHA-DRC, and they agreed on the following steps for moving forward:
- To call on other Christian organizations working in the health sector in DRC to share and discuss with them the idea of creating a CHA-DRC;
- To meet religious leaders, especially the leaders of different denominations to explain as well as advocate for an endorsement of the project(despite the distance issue );
- To put together a clear timetable on the process of creating the platform CHA-DRC
ACHAP AT AIDS 2018 IN AMSTERDAM
ACHAP’s board chair Mr. Peter Yeboah and Coordinator Nkatha Njeru participated in the “Faith Building Bridges” preconference at the interfaith affiliated event of the International AIDS Conference 2018 (in Amsterdam, Netherlands) where representatives of faith-based organizations (FBOs), religious leaders, health care providers, activists, scientists, policymakers and other stakeholders were gathered. Nkatha spoke at a session on efforts of FBOs in elimination of stigma and discrimination. Mr. Peter Yeboah was on a panel on the role of faith groups in TB. “In the communities we serve you will find three things: a school, a church and a health facility. And it is important to use these resources to beat the virus’s spread. Religious leaders have strong connections in the communities they serve and therefore can influence the community’s behavior,’’ Nkatha said. “AIDS is caused by a virus and not curable as yet, but stigma is originated by man and can be cured by human actions,” she concluded.
SURVEY AIMED AT BUILDING CAPACITY OF CHAs
In order to identify capacity gaps as well as strengths to leverage on as a platform, ACHAP is conducting an assessment using a Rapid Organizational Capacity Assessment (ROCAT) Tool that they have developed with support from a systems strengthening consultant and the University of Cape Town (UCT). Once the assessment is completed, ACHAP shall work together with the CHAs on action plans that will include peer-to-peer mentorship visits in the coming months. The ROCAT is designed to be self-administered by a team from the responding organization. The utility and benefit of the findings of the assessment to the organization will only be as good as the organization’s responding team is able to take its time to carefully and honestly respond to the questions asked in the tool.
CONFRONTING THE DOCUMENTATION CHALLENGES OF FBOS
One of the greatest gaps that hinders the work of the faith-based organizations is documentation. A lot of work is done by faith-based organizations but very little is documented and even when it is, in most cases, the information is incomplete. As you know, if it is not written down, it’s as if it did not happen.
In order to bridge and close documentation gaps within its member organizations through supporting them to collect information, analyze it and share the same, ACHAP brought together M&E officers from CHAs to discuss innovative ways of working on the documentation gaps together. Members have created a platform on which issues of common challenge are discussed and as well identify small projects of common interest that members can embark on together. At the moment, CHAs have identified HIV indicators to track and report on quarterly and are currently working on modalities for engaging on a maternal and child health technology application with support of an organization known as Medic Mobil.
WASH AT HEALTH FACILITIES
ACHAP Secretariat in partnership with Emory University with support from Global Water 2020 hosted a training on WASH in health facilities in the second week of June 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. The training brought together participants from five CHAs coming from five African countries: Lesotho, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya. Using the WASHCon assessment tool developed by the Centre for Global Safe WASH, Emory University, the trainees were trained on assessing the WASH conditions of health facilities. The aim of this project is to assess, and consequently improve, WASH conditions of the member health facilities in the five countries.
LEARNING HOW TO TELL OUR STORY
IMA World Health partnered with ACHAP to build the capacity of CHAs in storytelling, photography and communications ethics, and to create a support and sharing network among field and communications staff. The training was held in Nairobi and five ACHAP members were represented during a two-day training where 22 members of staff from ACHAP members attended.