In Part 1 of this series, I discussed why the church should play a leading role in the task of building a developed Nigeria. In Part 2 of the series, I addressed the first role and what I consider the main starting point – Prayer. In Part 3, we delved into the second role – Messaging. In Part 4, we looked at the third role – Training. We will now look at the fourth role – Healthcare, with the remaining 3 roles (Social Work, Advocacy and Mobilisation) to be discussed in the coming weeks.
Why should the church play a leading role in Healthcare?
Government has failed: The Federal and State Governments’ annual budget for Health has been highly insufficient for years now and the little that is allocated is either stolen, mismanaged or goes mainly to paying overheads such as salaries, allowances, vehicles, etc. The summary is that healthcare is poorly funded by government while millions of citizens die.
The need is urgent: Even if government starts giving healthcare the much required attention, government cannot fund it alone nor does she have the manpower to address all the needs. As our population has exploded, we have added tens of millions of citizens and majority have health challenges due to our under-development.
The Church has resources: Her huge financial and human resources (members) and her enormous influence provide the church with the best tools to make immediate inroads in this sector. Her members can contribute not just finances but assets (land, buildings, equipment, building materials, etc) and they can also volunteer their time.
The Church has played this role before: It is interesting to note that most of the leaders in all sectors of our nation were either given birth to in a missionary hospital or received treatment and training from these institutions. Missionaries did it with much less resources, more can be done today.
It is part of the Church’s key remit: One the central theme of Jesus’ ministry was healing the sick. Ministering to the health needs of her members and that of her community is a key remit of the church.
What areas of Healthcare should the church play a leading role in?
Treatment: During the colonial days, the missionaries discovered that the emancipation of our people through education was frequently interrupted by health challenges and so their response was to set up hospitals to preserve lives.
Today, Nigeria is still losing large numbers of her citizens, and many die in their prime, due to lack of affordable and quality healthcare.
The church should invest in the establishment of affordable and accessible health centres and mobile clinics for primary health care and also hospitals that provides specialist services such as physiotherapy, care for patients with eye problems, dental problems, cancer, HIV/Aids, diabetes, leprosy, mental illness, etc.
Maternity and Child Health: According to UNICEF, “Every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five (year) olds and 145 women of childbearing age. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world.”
The quote above indicates that the church should urgently:
– Set up maternity clinics in hospitals, health centres, community centres, town halls, mobile clinics, church premises, etc.
– Provide free prenatal, natal and postnatal care.
– Educate women and men through prenatal and postnatal classes, leaflets, home visits and relevant church ministries (like the Womb Ministry).
– Establish and manage motherless babies home for the care of abandoned babies.
Pharmacy: The Church should be involved in the establishment and management of pharmacies that will provide good quality medication at an affordable price. This intervention will help reduce the high mortality rate caused by fake medication and the high cost of medication.
Training: The Church should establish Schools of Nursing and Midwifery, Teaching Hospitals and schools for care workers. These schools should incorporate medical teachings with biblical teachings on service and in doing so we will produce many healthcare professionals who see their vocation as a service rather than a job or duty.
Health Values: The Church should undertake extensive health campaigns to educate Nigerians on proper health values and immunizations. This could be in the form of messages during and after church meetings, road shows to towns and villages, the production and distribution of health leaflets, etc.
The Church is well aware that many Nigerians, including her members, suffer health problems due to ignorance which could have been avoided if sufficient health information was available.
Research: The Church must play a key role in funding research into key challenges such as the treatment and prevention of killer diseases like malaria.
According to a UNICEF report on Partnering to Roll Back Malaria dated 22nd April 2009, malaria kills 250,000 Nigerian children under the age of 5 each year and is responsible for about 66% of all hospital/clinic visits in Nigeria (the disease affects five times as many people as HIV/AIDS, leprosy, measles and tuberculosis combined).
As the leading killer of our people, not only children, the Church has to seize the initiative in finding lasting solutions to this epidemic through her investment into medical research. This and other medical research can be initiated by the church alone or in partnership with the private sector or our universities.
Nigeria’s healthcare sector needs urgent intervention and considering lives are at stake, the Church must act swiftly to help stem and then turn the tide. This is an urgent clarion call to the Church leadership and to her members.
Would you demand leadership from your Church for the healthcare sector?