Faith-Based Organizations Major Contributors to Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, Report Says
Faith-based organizations are playing a major role in the fight against HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a World Health Organization report released this week, IRIN/AllAfrica.com reports. According to the report -- titled "Appreciating Assets: Mapping, Understanding, Translating and Engaging Religious Health Assets in Zambia and Lesotho" -- Christian hospitals and health centers provide about 40% of HIV/AIDS medical care in Lesotho and manage nearly one-third of treatment facilities in Zambia. The report found that faith-based organizations seldom are credited for their efforts to increase access to antiretroviral treatment and provide care to those living with HIV/AIDS on the continent, IRIN/AllAfrica.com reports. According to WHO, faith-based organizations make up 30% to 70% of the health infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa. Patrick Purtill, director of new partner outreach in the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, said failing to recognize that faith-based organizations "possess an extensive geographic reach and a well-developed infrastructure in the developing world" could hinder efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. Francois Venter, director of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, said that churches and faith-based organizations are "uniquely positioned to help realize the goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in Africa as a result of their stature in the communities." Ted Karpf, partnerships officer in WHO's HIV/AIDS Department, in a statement said, "This data demands that we continue to explore and expand the field," adding that the report is the "first serious study of FBO engagement in HIV/AIDS, but it cannot be the last" (IRIN/AllAfrica.com, 2/13).
The report is available online.