Subject Guide: Faith-Based Organizations

photo by Mia Collis courtesy of USAID

As the global community wrestles with human resources for health issues, faith-based organizations (FBOs) are a vital source of health worker production and promising practices. [1] FBOs play a major role in the provision of health services throughout Africa. The World Health Organization estimates that between 30% and 70% of the health infrastructure in Africa is currently owned by faith-based organizations, yet there is often little cooperation between these organizations and mainstream public health programs. [2]

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the severity of the health worker crisis makes maximizing all available resources a priority. FBOs are a key link in the sustainability of accessible health services. In many African countries, they have been providing health care for a century or more. Their contributions to national health services range from hospitals, clinics and community- and home-based programs. Perhaps even more important, FBOs have strong relationships with the local communities, and are often located in the rural areas where other providers are not available. [3]

Addressing the Issue

The HRH Global Resource Center’s collection includes materials on Faith-Based Organizations, including their influence on HIV/AIDS, family planning, and maternal health. There are also resources on the FBO role in training and support of health workers.

Recommended reading:

The HRH Global Resource Center also publishes original FBO HRH Leaders in Action Interviews conducted by CapacityPlus's Erika Pearl:

The CapacityPlus project, in association with the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform, also publishes the Hotline newsletter which focuses on HRH issues for FBOs in Africa. The GRC hosts electronic versions of Hotline.

[1] Hafner C. Strengthening the Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Human Resources for Health Initiatives, Capacity Project, 2009.

[2] World Health Organization. Faith-Based Organizations Play a Major Role in HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2007.

[3] Capacity Project. A Key Piece of the Puzzle: Faith-Based Health Services in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2007.