Original Research - Special Collection: Religion and Theology and Constructions of Earth and Gender

Role of faith-based organisations and individuals in provision of health services in Zimbabwe

Ivy Musekiwa, Norbert Musekiwa
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 3 | a8114 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i3.8114 | © 2023 Ivy Musekiwa, Norbert Musekiwa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 September 2022 | Published: 13 March 2023

About the author(s)

Ivy Musekiwa, Department of English, Faculty of Humanities, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
Norbert Musekiwa, Department of Political and Administrative Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana


This article reflects on the increasing roles of faith-based organisations (FBOs) and individual followers in the provision of health services in Zimbabwe within the context of declining capabilities of state-funded and state-owned health facilities. In colonial and post-colonial Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular, FBOs have consistently contributed to the provision of public services and social security. We contend that state fragilities in the Zimbabwean political landscape result in severe public service delivery deficits that are often filled by FBOs and individual followers. The implications for FBOs and individual followers are twofold. Firstly, the increased involvement of FBOs in the production and provision of public services such as education and health services afford FBOs with opportunities and spaces to evangelise. Secondly, and on the downward side, the provision of health services can often be expensive and diverts attention from the core business of these religious organisations. The article reveals that in the context of economic and governance crises, FBOs play an increasingly momentous role in providing health care services in Zimbabwe. The article focuses on Zimbabwe during the crisis periods of 2007–2009 and 2018 up to the current (2022) socio-economic and political declines, poor governance, and the subsequent fragilities in the state.

Contribution: Faith-based organisations assume increasing roles in the provision of health services in place of failing states. Those increased roles provide FBOs opportunities to evangelise. However, FBOs are not a sustainable replacement because they become afflicted with the same financial challenges that bedevil the state.


Christian churches; faith-based organisations (FBOs); health services; ill health; individuals; religion; spiritual dimension; state fragility; Zimbabwe.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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