|African bishops discuss health needs
The Rev. Gary Henderson, executive director of the Global Health
Initiative, listens as Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo discusses ways to
obtain funds for improving health systems. A UMNS photo by M. Isaac
By M. Isaac Broune*
April 14, 2009 | ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire (UMNS)
United Methodists are looking at ways to improve health systems in Africa.
Representatives of the denomination and its Global Health
Initiative recently consulted with several African bishops about how to
strengthen their health boards. The goal: to be better able to receive
funds and improve the health systems in their areas.
Meeting March 10-12 at Jubile-Cocody United Methodist Church
in Abidjan, participants heard from experts on ways to access money for
each of their annual, or regional, conferences in order to help their
people improve their health.
In the opening worship, Bishop Benjamin Boni of the Côte
d’Ivoire Annual Conference recognized that the “needs of the church in
Africa are so numerous that one can have the impression that nothing is
(being) done to improve people’s lives.”
Needs of humanity
Quoting from 1 Kings 18:42-46, he challenged the participants
to be like that “cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising from the sea”
that caused a heavy rain.
“The work accomplished by The United Methodist Church resembles a drop of water in the
sea of the needs of humanity,” Boni said. But, he added, if the people
called United Methodist have faith in God, who called them to bring
healing to other people, “the small cloud will be transformed in a
heavy rain for a future of hope in the African continent.”
“All the annual conferences need to be engaged in the same process to eliminate malaria, as it was begun in Côte d’Ivoire.”In
order to achieve that goal, the Rev. Sam Dixon, top executive of the
United Methodist Committee on Relief, suggested from the outset a
simple methodology: “We need to understand where we are, start from
where we are, step up to where other donors exist, meet their
expectations and keep people from dying from diseases of poverty.”
– Bishop Janice Riggle Huie
The Rev. Gary Henderson, executive director of the Global
Health Initiative, briefed participants about the denomination’s four
areas of focus and the initiative’s plan to create better health for
people around the world. He also shared an overview of an upcoming
Imagine Campaign to build malaria awareness.
Other experts at the event represented the United Nations
Foundation, the Global Fund, Côte d’Ivoire Malaria Control Program,
Population Services International, CARE International, Country
Coordinating Mechanisms, Focal Point, the United Methodist Texas Annual
Conference and Duke University.
Participants came from the denomination’s annual conferences
in North Katanga (Congo), Central Congo, South Congo, Côte d’Ivoire,
Mozambique, Liberia, Angola and East Africa.
Patrick Silborn, senior partnerships officer at the Global
Fund, introduced them to an overview of the fund, its history and the
grant process. Most African countries are eligible for grants lasting
up to six years, he said.
Michael Pajonk, from the U.N. Foundation, described his agency
as supporting partnerships and the funding of organizations to do good
works and noted the current partnership with The United Methodist
Church on malaria.
Bishop Janice Huie of Houston, Texas, who moderated the
consultation, said the health ministry partnership between Côte
d’Ivoire and the Texas Conference could be used by all the annual
conferences in Africa.
“All the annual conferences need to be engaged in the same
process to eliminate malaria, as it was begun in Côte d’Ivoire,” she
For Bishop John Innis of Liberia, “the consultation was an
excellent educational opportunity.” He called upon his counterparts to
do their best in improving health through transparency, leadership and
“UMCOR will follow up with each conference to build health
systems and to manage programs that will fight malaria and other
diseases and save lives,” said Shannon Trilli, an executive with UMCOR
* Broune is conference communicator for the Côte d'Ivoire Annual Conference.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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