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Karen Sichinga, Chair of the African Christian Health Associations Platform and Executive Director of the Churches Health Association of Zambia discusses how faith-based organizations in Africa provide family planning and work with faith leaders to increase demand.
African Christian Health Associations
Role in Family Planning services.
Presenter: Karen Sichinga
Executive Director: Churches Health Association of Zambia
Board Chairperson: Africa Christian Health Association Platform
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON FAMILY PLANNING (ICFP)
FAITH PRE-CONFERENCE: THE ROLE OF FAITH COMMUNITIES IN FAMILY
PLANNING ADVOCACY AND SERVICES TOWARDS ACHIEVING THE SUSTAINABLE
JANUARY 25TH 2016, NUSA DUA, INDONESIA.
Outline of the Presentation
• Background and main features of Christian Health Associations
• Highlights on African Christian Health Association Platform
– Mission, objectives
– FP Advocacy Role
• ACHAP members’ Roles in FP
• The case of Uganda (UCMB & UPMB)
• The case of the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ)
• Lessons Learnt.
• Challenges ACHAP face in the implementation of FP
• Recommendations & Conclusion
Background and main features Christian
Health Associations (CHAs)
The majority of CHAs were established in the 1960s
and in early 70s
Catholic or protestant or combined
Not homogenous. Vary in size, age and capacity
Work within the their respective national health policy
frameworks, and within the WHO six building blocks
(Leadership & Governance ,HRH, Service Delivery,, Infrastructure, Health
information, Finance), therefore contributes to National
Major partners of governments in health service
delivery and provide between 20 and 50 percent of
total health care in Sub-Sahara African countries -.
Background and main features- 2
• Contribute to the development of national human
resources for health through their schools of Nursing,
medical schools, and bio-medical science schools
• Provide comprehensive health packages including family
planning services that are scientifically sound and guided
by their church doctrine.
• Are autonomous in nature but are organized at a
regional level ( Sub-Sahara Africa) through ACHAP to
pursue a common goal.
• Have developed strong sub-granting mechanisms-
Principal Recipients for Global Funds ,PEPFAR and other
global funding mechanisms.
The Africa Christian
Platform (ACHAP) is a
networking forum for
26 Christian Health
countries in Sub-
The Secretariat is Nairobi,
Kenya and housed at CHAK
Health and Healing for all in Africa
Committed to supporting Church related
health Associations and organizations to
work and advocate for health for all in
Africa, guided by equity, justice and human
Establish and maintain
ACHAP FP Advocacy Role
Overall Focus : Advocate for favourable
policy and practice environment in order to
meet health objectives.
FP Focus: adequate investments and equity
in family planning.
Strategy and Philosophy
Use spaces and methods that yield results
without compromising the necessity for
ACHAP members’ Roles in FP
Two major roles
Advocacy and service delivery:
• All CHAs provide FP services that are scientifically sound
and guided by their church doctrine.
• Some members only cater for Natural Family Planning
while others provide all family planning options
• No member provides abortion services.
The case of Uganda (UCMB & UPMB)
Impact of FP training
involvement in family
provided couples with a
FP method that supports
Over 7,600 new users were
Health provider training
Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau and
the Ugandan Protestant Medical
The case of CHAZ:
• Formed in 1970.
• Interdenominational(Catholic and
Protestant) umbrella organisation
for 152 CHIs.
• The second largest provider of
health services in Zambia.
• One of the two Principal Recipients
for the Global Fund Mechanism in
Zambia for HIV/AIDS (including
ART), Malaria & TB GF inception
• CHAZ has successfully managed a
grant value of over $160 million in
the last 8 years. None of it for
• Lead NGO/SCO in health
Family planning is an integral
component of both the Health
Programs and Advocacy units.
FP is implemented in all the
church health facilities and
integrated into the District health
Protestant health facilities
promote and offer both Natural
and modern methods
Catholic heath facilities promote
the natural Family Planning
“If Clients request for Modern FP Methods, we provide Comprehensive FP Counseling,
and refer them to government Health Facilities or Community Based Distributors
(CBDs) for the services” Beatrice Mulenga, Chilonga Catholic Mission Hospital (20140)
None offers Abortion as option
CHAZ FP overall Objectives
FP Advocacy Specific Strategies
Collaborate with government and work within Zambia’s FP
Integration of facility level activities into the District health
management teams (DHMT) for sustainability
Consideration and respect of each of the 16 denomination’s
doctrine/policy (Catholic and Protestant)
– Use of a combination of Communication Channels: Interpersonal & Mass
Media Channels and community, regional( district) and central levels.
1. Increase Access to Quality FP Services
2. Strengthen the Integration of FP into MCH and STI/ PMTCT/HIV
and AIDS programs
CHAZ FP Advocacy activities
Central level activities
• Training of Church Leaders in
• Established dialogue
between church leaders and
Government on FP.
• Participation in FP national
• Engaged in Policy meetings
to represent the church and
other SCO working in health
• Budget tracking at central
and district level
• Joint Advocacy Goals
• Clergy FP Champions
• FP Budget now
established in national
budget (2015, 2016)
While family planning has suffered from inadequate
investments in ACHAP member countries, the church
health system has been most affected because the
development partners have assumed that Churches:
are “anti-Family Planning”,
have one stand on Family Planning
do not have the technical knowhow to effectively
contribute to improving Family Planning outcomes.
Because of this perception the church has been left out
in the allocation of family planning resources and in the
decision making space- a missed opportunity
ACHAP FP Challenges
• Poor Behavior
• Low Education
Service Delivery &
-Limited Points of
-Poor Integration of
-Poor Rural Access
& Supply Chain
Domestic and reliable
FP funding is
“He sent them to preach the Kingdom of God and heal the sick” Luke 9:2
Teenage Pregnancies- the result of “the forgotten client”
The CHAs advocacy is effective but is publicity shy
therefore their work go unnoticed but claimed by
others who may not have been involved in the real
• Development partners should embrace and support
the Faith Community’s contribution in FP.
• The church should document its work and
communicate its position in Family Planning.
• Sub-Sahara African governments will need to increase
their annual allocation to FP in the era of Sustainable
Development Goals and fully engage their “all-weather
partner”, the Christian Health Association in their
• Church health systems have been involved in the
implementation of Family planning services at both
national and community levels for decades, working
and collaborating with governments in the promotion
of a variety of FP methods while respecting their own
church FP policies .
• ACHAP and its members, the Christian Health
Associations stand ready individually and collectively
to make unique contribution to improving Family
Planning health outcomes as countries implement the
SDGs, provided that stakeholders respect the Church
individual policies on FP.
• The Natural Family Planning method is still an option
for women who choose to use it, women and couples
must be supported by all concerned . The Church is
uniquely qualified to support the Scientific Natural
Family Planning which require more effort to ensure
adoption, compliance and sustained use.
• ACHAP and member Christian health Associations are
together an important “resource “in the promotion of
FP uptake in Africa. However, this reliable pool of
resource would need its capacity strengthened in
order to effectively play its role in Advocacy for Family
• Respective governments in Sub-Sahara Africa
• Christian Connections for International
• Faith in Action.
• Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
• CRS, EPN, IMA,
• ACHAP Secretariat and CHAK
• ..and the Committee and sponsors that worked
so hard to organize this meeting and to bring all
of us here, ………many others .Thank you
• ACHAP Report ( unpublished)
• UCMB Report (Unpublished)
– The Natural Plan Project on Faith Based
Communities in Africa: an Integral Part of
Improving Family Planning and Reproductive
• CHAZ Activity Report( unpublished)