Church-state partnerships aid malaria fight in rural Africa

Church medical services preferred

When Silumesii Mubiana’s elderly uncle fell ill with hypertension, Mubiana bypassed closer government-run hospitals in Zambia, traveling instead to the church-run Macha Mission Hospital 25 miles away.

- Religion News Service

Mubiana said the reason was simple: At the Macha hospital, patients receive better care. 'There’s negligence in government hospitals,' Mubiana said as two kittens scurried about and doctors made their rounds at the church-run hospital to check on patients like his uncle, Davis Mwaiya. 'I had lost hope, but here he is on the road to recovery.'

In this remote part of Zambia where it takes more than a day’s walk to get to any nearby town, malaria has gone from a death sentence to near elimination. A partnership between the Zambian government and churches has created unique but effective collaboration in the fight to wipe out malaria.

Now, across Africa, the success in Macha has public health professionals and government employees asking whether the public-private model can be duplicated in other places. For more than a decade, Zambia has been a constitutional Christian nation, paving the way for interesting partnerships like one at Macha Mission in the southern region of the country. In a country where a third of the hospitals are mission-run but government-funded, Church and State are intrinsically intertwined.

'In the U.S. it wouldn’t work because of the separation of Church and State,' said Dr. Philip Thuma, whose father, a Brethren in Christ Church missionary, founded the hospital in 1957. 'Here, it’s just fine.'

The 208-bed hospital serves the surrounding area of about 160,000 people, with operating costs of about $90,000 per month. Most of the hospital’s funding comes from the government, but the Zambian Brethren in Christ Church runs the hospital and owns much of the surrounding property.

Photo: Abraham Mhango is the executive director of Macha Mission Hospital in Zambia

FULL STORY Church-state partnerships aid malaria fight in rural Africa

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