Collaboration between faith-based communities and humanitarian actors when responding to HIV in emergencies
Faith based communities (FBCs) (Box 1) provide 40% to 50% of healthcare in developing countries (African Religious Health Assets Programme, 2006). One in five organisations working on HIV programmes are faith-based (World Health, 2004). While their role in responding to HIV is recognised, FBCs have unexploited capacity for the delivery of HIV prevention, treatment and care.
This is partly because some humanitarian organisations do not value the role of FBCs. Concerns include fears that funds are awarded on the basis of ideology rather than the effective delivery of health services. They worry that FBCs are unable to provide HIV prevention services without a religious agenda; or may have preconceived ideas about FBC capacity or approaches. But there is growing evidence to balance these misconceptions, such as a World Bank evaluation of 155 health facilities in Uganda, which found that faith-based health providers supplied better services than government facilities (Global Health Council, 2005). More evidence is needed on the role of FBCs in responding to HIV in humanitarian crises.
A collaborative study between ODI, World Vision and Tearfund in 2009 aimed to generate such evidence. It consisted of a global literature review followed by field studies in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Kenya - countries selected to provide a range of country, emergency and HIV contexts. A qualitative methodology was used; informants included people affected by the emergency, People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and members of the FBC. This briefing presents key findings and recommendations for the faith community and humanitarian actors. The study focused only on responses within the Christian community. While other religious communities also engage in HIV-responses, this is the subject for another study.