BRAZZAVILLE, Congo — The World Council of Churches (WCC) reiterated its commitment to supporting health and wellness in Africa before the 69th session of World Health Organization Regional Committee for Africa.
Photo: WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and the WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo by Dr Mwai Makoka/WCC
The regional committee, comprising health ministers from the 47 countries, is the governing body of the World Health Organization in the African region. The 69th session was held in Brazzaville, Congo from 19–23 August.
The WCC was represented at the session as a non-state actor.
The health ministers agreed on an aggressive plan to control mosquitoes and other vectors causing diseases; and adopted new strategies to reduce the burden of malnutrition, and for integrated disease surveillance and response. Other issues that were discussed include the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the project for elimination of neglected tropical diseases.
Since its establishment, the WCC has engaged on health in Africa. The WCC supported churches and their national councils in establishing national Christian health associations that are now functional in 36 sub-Saharan countries, and also the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform and the Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network that support access to quality and equitable pharmaceutical supplies in church health facilities. During the West Africa Ebola outbreak, the WCC accompanied the churches in their response and supported development of safe and dignified burial practices. The WCC also has HIV programmes that help churches address socio-cultural drivers of HIV and also engage in advocacy.
It is estimated that church health facilities provide 20–60% of health care in Africa, besides training of health workers and diverse community-based health and development programmes. While supporting government efforts to promote health and well being for people at a national level, these facilities also promote the life and witness of the church.
The work of the WCC, churches, Christian health facilities, the All Africa Conference of Churches and other ecumenical partners will contribute to the strategies adopted by the World Health Organization Regional Committee for Africa. “In particular, we believe that congregation-based health promotion models will support churches in implementing interventions that are innovative, scalable and sustainable,” said Dr Mwai Makoka, WCC programme executive for health and healing.