|EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE: SUMMARY OF STUDY
|Year : 2016 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 121-122
Faith-based Health-care providers in the 21 st Century
Ajay Kumar Mishra, Cijoy K Kuriakose
Department of General Medicine, CMC, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
|Date of Web Publication||22-Nov-2016|
Source of Support: Understanding the roles of faith-based health-care providers in Africa: review of the evidence with a focus on magnitude, reach, cost, and satisfaction, Olivier J et al. The Lancet 2015 Oct 31;386 (10005):1765-75., Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Mishra AK, Kuriakose CK. Faith-based Health-care providers in the 21 st Century. Curr Med Issues 2016;14:121-2
Research Question: What is the relevance of faith-based health-care providers in the 21 st century?
Authors′ conclusion: This systematic review shows that faith-based organizations and faith-based health-care providers play a significant role in providing health care, especially in areas with fragile health systems. (2) Their relevance increases in the context of neglected diseases.
| Background|| |
In 2012, the Pew Research Centre estimated that 84% of the world's population considered themselves as religiously affiliated. Faith-based health care providers (FBHPs) and faith-based organizations (FBO) offer health care as an expression of their faith. For example, organizations with a focus on Christian faith provide health care to specific geographical or cultural communities. When compared to public sector and other secular health providers, these FBHPs have been effective in outreach (availability in the remote places), nourishing community trust and participation, providing cost-effective and quality care for the marginalized and poor. However, the above qualities are shadowed by perceived weaknesses such as lack of human resource, doubtful financial sustainability, poor record keeping, preferential service, and suspicion of conversion by coercion. The objective of the systematic review was to present the facts about the role of FBHPs which are supported by evidence.  This assumes more importance because many health targets have been unachievable in many countries in spite of significant and extensive government involvement.
| Results|| |
Most of the evidence on the role of FBHPs in health in literature came from its role in response to HIV/AIDS. The WHO report in 2004 documented that FBHPs and FBOs accounted for 20% of all the agencies working for HIV. Around the world, Catholic Church, Salvation Army, Adventist church, and other Christian Health Associations operated thousands of health-care facilities which included hospitals, specialty clinics, health centers and mobile clinics, among which the Catholic Church contributed most (5300 hospitals all over the world).
Apart from providing HIV care to remote areas, these FBHPs also have been instrumental in providing various public health interventions such as immunization, antimalarial campaigns, child and maternal health services, and tuberculosis.
Healthcare in Africa
At the present scenario, it is perceived that 30%-70% of the health-care services are being provided by FBHPs worldwide, in which Africa has the highest percentage of FBHPs. In various parts of Africa, 30%-50% of hospital beds are owned by faith-based health-care networks (FBHN) with the maximum of 50% of beds in Uganda. Nigeria has the highest number of FBHN hospitals (147) and health centers (2747). The authors also found that more than 200 FBHN training centers are present all over Africa as well.
Service to the poor
When comparing the services of different health-care models in 14 countries in Africa, it was found that the poorest was served more by FBHPs than public and other private health-care centers. The rich also availed health care under the FBOs as much as public and private health care centers.
Cost of healthcare
It was also noteworthy that the comparative costs of health care in FBOs were lower. This could have been strategically kept to make health care affordable and available for the poor.
Patient satisfaction was reportedly higher in view of the perceived higher quality of service. This was attributed to lower out of pocket costs, the dignity, compassion, and care provided by the FBHPs as compared to others.
A summary of the strengths and weaknesses of FBHPs as noted by the authors has been tabulated [Table 1]. In conclusion, FBOs and FBHPs play a significant role in providing health care, especially in areas with fragile health systems.  Their relevance increases in the context of neglected diseases.
| References|| |
Olivier J, Tsimpo C, Gemignani R, Shojo M, Coulombe H, Dimmock F, et al.
Understanding the roles of faith-based health-care providers in Africa: Review of the evidence with a focus on magnitude, reach, cost, and satisfaction. Lancet 2015;386:1765-75.
Spillman ID. Faith-based health care. Lancet 2016;387:429.