The United Methodist Church is working to bring better health to children across the globe place. We’re taking responsibility both for those in our own communities and those across the globe. The Global Health Unit is providing technical support and grant for abundant health projects in six countries to:
- Ensure safe births
- Promote good nutrition and breastfeeding
- Prevent and treat childhood diseases
- Promote children’s health and wholeness
The Global Health Unit has awarded over $1.3 million in grants to support Abundant Health projects in Liberia, Mozambique, Haiti, Nigeria and Democratic Republic in Congo.
Death of mothers during birth and babies during the first year of life are a national and local challenge in Mozambique. This is often because women delay seeking pre-natal care, delay going to a clinic or hospital for delivery or there are treatment delays once in the health facility. The lack of key infrastructure and equipment at health facilities: furnishings, diagnostic tools, technology such as an autoclave, delivery kits, emergency transport, and qualified staff are additional challenges.
The United Methodist Clinic in Cambine is the sole health facility for 13 villages with a population of about 16,250 people. Yet the Cambine clinic lacks the human resources, or equipment to provide adequate pre-natal or obstetric services to this community.
The Abundant Health project is supporting the training of midwives to identify high-risk pregnancies and refer to the hospital, providing emergency ambulance service, supporting a mother’s waiting room and the recruitment of skilled health professionals and equipment to revitalize this clinic.
Liberia is one of the 24 countries on the priority list for high mother and child mortality globally. The UMC’s John Deans Town and Camphor Mission Clinics, in Liberia, are the only health facilities serving remote and difficult-to-access communities in that part of Grand Bassa County. Their services are limited and the subsequent community response has often been negative. Most care, including care for pregnant women, newly delivered mothers and babies, is provided by local unskilled practitioners and there have been negative outcomes. Alongside the Liberia Annual conference health board, The Abundant Health program is helping to increase access to health information, services, medicines, medical supplies, immunizations, family planning services and commodities; and help train Community Health Volunteers and Health Professionals to serve this community.
Haiti is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that has been chosen as a priority country for maternal and child health support. This is because for every 100,000 births 380 women die in Haiti, only 36% of Haitian mothers give birth in a health facility, 7.5% of children never see their fifth birthday and half of children under five are malnourished (USAID 2014). Together with Eglise Methodiste d-Haiti (EMH) and the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), we will be impacting maternal and child health through health system strengthening as well as training community health workers at 5 health facilities.
Five health facilities in the targeted communities would be providing the resources to support maternal and child health services. In addition to community education to increase demand for health care and primary prevention among women and children aged 0–5.
Nigeria contributes more than 70% of maternal and child deaths globally. In a study of 59 countries, Nigeria accounts for 44% of the estimated 2.2 million deliveries, where no one is present to assist a mother during labor and delivery (Global Health: Science and Practice 2016). The Abundant Health program’s focus is on the states of Taraba and Gombe (North-East Nigeria) where communities’ health and economic status is poor and access to quality health care is extremely difficult.
The state of Taraba alone has a 10.5% rate of HIV prevalence, which is the second highest rate in the country (Taraba State Agency for the Control of Aids (TACA).
Together with the Nigeria Health Board, Abundant Health program is supporting the Rural Health Project (RHP) in strengthening health systems and reducing child morbidity and mortality from preventable causes in communities served by Gwandum and Worom Clinics.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The DRC has one of the highest rates of maternal and child deaths globally (USAID 2016). National mortality rates for children under 5 years of age is 98/1,000 live births; and maternal mortality reaches 730/100,000 live births. The Abundant Health Initiative is supporting projects in East and Central Congo Episcopal areas of DRC
The UMC’s East Congo Episcopal area is predominantly rural and distances between services are great which makes supervision, employment of well trained staff, and ongoing training challenging. Most of the facilities have an inadequate infrastructure and there are shortages of equipment and medicines. The goal of Abundant Health project is to enhance health service delivery and quality in 3 locations: Bukavu, Uvira and Mongobu health facilities; and reduce preventable child morbidity and mortality in communities served by 2 health facilities.
Compared to national rates, Central Congo has a much higher maternal and child mortality rates. In the Dingele community selected for AH support there were at least 27 maternal deaths and 17 neonatal deaths in 2015. Poor community knowledge; misconception about child bearing and child care; unsafe traditional practices; poverty; lack of access to services and clean water are some of the reasons keeping women from access to early or regular clinic assistance. At the facility level, poor quality of care, scarcity of good medications, inadequate facility infrastructure and equipment, limit the providers’ capacity. With the Central Congo Health Board, AH aims is to enhance health service delivery and quality at Dingele and Diengenga clinics and reduce preventable child morbidity and mortality by 50% in the communities served these health facilities.
Unite States of America
Global Health has awarded nearly $400,000 for nutrition programming in the U.S as part of the AH initiative.
Four projects are currently being supported:
- Good Neighbors Ministries, Inc., of Augusta, Ga., Southeastern Jurisdiction — Established in 2008 by St Luke’s United Methodist Church, this ministry serves the community through nine programs to alleviate diet-related illnesses by helping to improve overall nutrition.
- Tazewell District Cooperative Ministries, of Rosedale, Va., Southeastern Jurisdiction — In consultation with the community, the four United Methodist churches in this cooperative will renovate the closed Elk Garden School and offer community nutrition, cooking and exercise classes, community gardens, recovery ministries, senior citizens programs, and educational support for students.
- Community Development for All People (CD4AP) of Columbus, Ohio, North Central Jurisdiction — The Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL) program of CD4AP addresses two major barriers to poor nutrition in a poor community: the high cost of nutritious food and preparation time. These are being addressed through healthy eating and living initiatives, free distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables, child/youth development, and parent engagement.
- Interfaith Arkansas of Little Rock, Ark., South Central Jurisdiction — With more than 200,000 children in Arkansas labeled as food insecure, United Methodists are taking action by participating in the 200,000 Reasons three-year initiative to significantly reduce childhood hunger. With the help of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and its 500 partners, United Methodist churches will be opening pantries, planting gardens, hosting cooking classes, and sponsoring summer meal sites so that kids struggling with hunger will no longer have to wonder where their next meal will come from. “Ending child hunger in Arkansas is the heart and soul of the Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign,” said Patty Barker, campaign director.