News and Opinions  –  2017

The role of faith-based organizations in taking action against antibiotic resistance

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Late December 2016 a group of more than 30 experts from the faith based health sector was invited to attend a workshop on strengthening faith-based engagement in “Combating the Emergence and Spread of Antimicrobial Resistance”, at the Vatican.

The workshop was organized by the U.S. Department of State Office of Religion and Global Affairs, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, Caritas International, Georgetown University and funded by the GHR Foundation. The workshop explored and jointly identified actions to strengthen faith-based engagement to combat the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The Church, in particular the Catholic Church, has played a major role in health care provision around the world and all faith-based organizations provide anywhere between 20 – 60% of health care in African countries.

Group photo in front of the Vatican City.
Group photo in front of the Vatican City.

The four-day workshop brought together organizations, health practitioners, scientific experts, health associations and representatives from the government and non-government sector. Together they identified areas and made recommendations for faith-based organization engagement in addressing AMR.  They also developed a document, A Call to Action that will be distributed to the Catholic clergy, institutions and other faith-based organizations.

“ The Catholic Church is very visible in healthcare services in Africa. She, of all religious groups and private agencies working in the healthcare industry in Africa, has the largest number of private hospitals and clinics providing Medicare and, in some cases, free medical treatment for HIV/AIDs, pregnant women and people suffering from malaria. This happens even in those African countries where the Catholic Church is not a majority” – Stan Chu Ilo, Aid and Development in Africa (Pickwick)

Mirfin Mpundu from ReAct Africa and the Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network (EPN) was one of the participants who presented on the work that EPN and ReAct have been doing over the years. He also presented some materials that EPN and ReAct have developed and the ReAct Toolbox which were well received.

The group put emphasis on the development and implementation of best practices through local providers, on prevention of infections through the use of vaccines to reduce the antibiotic need and on infection control practices in all health facilities.

 “The church has an integral part to play in the fight against AMR, it was therefore very encouraging to see the Catholic Church take leadership and seek ways of how faith-based organizations can be strengthened to address the issue of AMR” –  Dr.Mirfin Mpundu