Original Research - Practical Theology

Church-driven primary health care: Models for an integrated church and community primary health care in Africa (a case study of the Salvation Army in East Africa)

Vhumani Magezi
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 2 | a4365 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i2.4365 | © 2018 | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 November 2016 | Published: 13 March 2018


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Abstract

The role of churches in primary health care delivery in Africa’s poor contexts is widely acknowledged. Discussion of churches’ work in health largely focuses on the spiritual side and tends to downplay (or overlook) the practical side. A clear challenge and gap in the role of churches in primary health delivery is the lack of clear models and approaches to determine the efficacy of the interventions. Hence, the role of churches as a player in the delivery of primary health care needs examination. This paper examines the role of church-driven primary health care, using a practical case study of the health work of the Salvation Army in East Africa. It outlines the primary health services rendered by the Salvation Army and deduces five models that emerged from the work of the various implementing churches in delivering primary health care. The article proceeds from an analysis of the meaning of primary health care and how churches are historically and currently positioned to contribute to primary health care. The article demonstrates that, viewed from a primary health care delivery perspective, churches in Africa play a critical practical contribution further to a spiritual role. From a practical theology perspective, the paper provides insight into how churches could operate in communities within the interface of church and health spaces. However, the church’s role and function is organic and differs in every community.

Keywords

Church driven primary health care in Africa; Primary health care in Africa; Community primary health care in Africa; Models for church and community integrated health care

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