(Left to right) Mr. Hyacinthe Besse Gouedan, vice president of the health board of The United Methodist Church Côte d’Ivoire, and Dr. Joseph Andoh, health coordinator serving in Côte d’Ivoire, during their presentation at the Pan-Africa Health Board meeting in Accra, Ghana.
By Julia Kayser*
September 9-13, 2013, Accra, Ghana—At the annual Pan-Africa Health Board Meeting convened here by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), students became teachers, when some of the more experienced United Methodist health board coordinators led training sessions alongside UMCOR staff.
United Methodist health boards are groups of medical professionals and community leaders who drive the church’s health initiatives in their conference or region. Each year, UMCOR invites these key players to come together to compare notes and strategize.
“Our goal is that the African health board coordinators drive the conversation about what they need,” says Shannon Trilli, director of UMCOR Global Health.
We’re proud to profile a few of the health board “superstars” today!
Hannah Mafunda: Zimbabwe Health Board Coordinator
Mafunda is one of only two health board coordinators whose Imagine No Malaria grant proposal was approved in the very first round. Mafunda headed a widespread distribution of more than 23,000 insecticide-treated bed nets in the Chimanimani District of Zimbabwe. This project started in December 2012, and is now entering its second phase.
Part of what made this distribution successful was Mafunda’s gift for partnership. “She has demonstrated a strong strategic connection with the UMCOR field office based in Harare,” the capital, writes Trilli. Mafunda also represents Harare’s malaria program on a committee for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international agency.
In Ghana last week, Mafunda helped teach two workshops: one on The Global Fund, and one on the role of a health board coordinator. She is a great asset not only for Zimbabwe’s health board, but for UMCOR’s partners across Africa and around the world.
Lazarus Filiya: Nigeria Health Board Coordinator
Filiya is the only other health board coordinator who has had an INM grant approved in the first round. He also was one of the first coordinators to establish a health board. His experience makes him a natural leader when the health board coordinators get together.
Earlier this year, Filiya and Trilli traveled together to Zambia for a meeting of the African Christian Health Association (ACHA). This ecumenical group helps to coordinate health initiatives across denominations. The meeting focused on non-communicable diseases (such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes). As life expectancies in Africa increase, these are growing concerns.
At last week’s Pan-Africa Health Board Meeting, Filiya taught a workshop on community-based primary health-care programs. He presented what he learned at the ACHA forum in Zambia. He also shared insights about how to secure grant funding through ACHA.
Dr. Joseph Andoh: Cote D’Ivoire Health Board Coordinator
After a few years of hiatus, the Cote D’Ivoire health board is back on its feet. Under Dr. Andoh’s leadership, it has conducted training in record time and hit the ground running with project proposals and grant submissions. Trilli writes: “This board, with Dr. Andoh’s support, is sophisticated and really ‘gets’ how important it is for the church to engage in health ministry.”
Dr. Andoh traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, last month alongside Mafunda and several UMCOR executives. Their goal was to talk with grantors. At the headquarters of the International Red Cross, they met with representatives of the Alliance for Malaria Prevention. At the World Council of Churches, they learned about various ecumenical movements and their health priorities. The delegation also visited the headquarters of The Global Fund, which provides major funding to programs fighting AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
Dr. Andoh and Mafunda presented their findings from Geneva to the other health board coordinators in a session called “Global Fund and International Partnerships.”
UMCOR hopes that these “superstars” will inspire other health board coordinators to create worldwide partnerships as they pursue the development of health strategies that meet local needs.
You can support this important work with your gift to UMCOR Global Health, Advance #3020622.
*Julia Kayser is a writer and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.