Global Health News

February 2018

Faith-based Organizations in Global Health

Banner image of an Ethiopian religious leader standing in a doorway. Photo credit: Karen Kasmauski/MCSP.

In Ethiopia, USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program works closely with faith-based leaders to improve maternal, newborn and child health. Read a story that highlights how religious leaders are helping to save the lives of moms and babies. Photo credit: Karen Kasmauski/MCSP

The Role of Faith-based Organizations in Global Health

USAID has a long tradition of engaging religious leaders and faith-based organizations, as well as other community leaders and civil society organizations, to provide international development and disaster assistance through partnerships and investments that save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people emerge from humanitarian crises and progress beyond assistance. Developing and deepening relationships with religious leaders and faith communities is part of a broader effort to reach out to a diverse set of civil society actors to promote sustainable development, provide humanitarian assistance, and advance pluralism and human rights.

In the health sector, faith-based organizations are frequently on the front lines of service delivery. They are often able and willing to deliver care in remote areas that lack access to health services, often exceeding the capacity of local and national governments.

For many reasons, faith-based organizations are important partners in advancing global health priorities. In many instances, they have extensive social networks and infrastructure and, perhaps most importantly, are trusted by the communities they serve. In addition, community leaders can often have a profound impact on norms, values and behaviors and can influence healthy lifestyles.


Christian Non-profit Mobilizes Communities to Combat Zika in Nicaragua

A photograph of a community health worker in Nicaragua, sharing information on Zika. Photo credit: SSI/AMOS

A community health worker or "Brigadista" in Nicaragua shares a lesson on the risks of Zika and how mothers can protect themselves and their communities. Photo credit: SSI/AMOS

As part of our response to the Zika virus outbreak in Latin America and the Caribbean, USAID is bringing community members together to inform one another about the risks of Zika infection and to battle Zika-carrying mosquitoes in their own homes and neighborhoods.  In Nicaragua, the Agency has partnered with Sustainable Sciences Institute and A Ministry of Sharing Health & Hope (AMOS), a locally owned Christian non-profit organization, to engage and empower vulnerable communities in combating the spread of Zika.  AMOS’s commitment to serve those most in need, promote equitable access to health, and apply locally-driven approaches to health challenges, make them an ideal partner in this work.  Through its Zika response project, AMOS is strengthening the role of the community in preventing the spread of Zika and its devastating effects through low-cost community clean-up campaigns, mosquito surveillance and social behavior change communications.  Since the project began in September 2016, AMOS has trained more than 300 volunteers to spread Zika awareness-raising messages. This has resulted in 33 communities and nearly 3,000 individuals educated with critical information on the risks of Zika and how to protect themselves.


Faith-based Organization Keeps Girls HIV-free through Empowering Curriculum

Catholic Relief Services conducted DREAMS-related activities for young female workers at Lesotho's Sky Factory. Photo credit: Suzanne Leclerc-Madlala/USAID

Catholic Relief Services conducted DREAMS-related activities for young female workers at Lesotho’s Sky Factory. Photo credit: Suzanne Leclerc-Madlala/USAID

Controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic relies on the dedication of our implementing partners, each of whom bring their own diverse expertise to the cause. In Lesotho, USAID partners with the faith-based organization, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), to help implement the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief’s DREAMS partnership, which helps girls grow into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) women. CRS works with Aflatoun International, an organization offering social and financial education to millions of children and young people worldwide, to implement “Aflateen,” part of the DREAMS initiative that targets teenagers. CRS and Aflatoun International work together to train local teachers and facilitators to teach adolescent girls and young women social, financial and entrepreneurial skills. In 2016 alone, CRS and Aflatoun trained more than 100 facilitators, whose facilitation has enhanced – and will continue to – enhance teenage girls’ participation and contribution in their communities. It is this kind of new-found empowerment that will ultimately aid in lowering adolescent girls and young women’s risk of acquiring HIV. Read more about CRS’s and Aflatoun’s work in Lesotho.


Working with Faith-based Organizations to Prevent Gender-based Violence

Participants of the Gender Champions preparing for the Transforming Masculinities program in Kinshasa, DRC. Photo credit: Tearfund

Participants of the Gender Champions preparing for the Transforming Masculinities program in Kinshasa, DRC. Photo credit: Tearfund

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo – Elisée used to wake up every night to fetch more than 50 gallons of water to use for laundry, dishes, bathing, etc. And, her husband, Alain, simply thought that was part of her role as his wife, but little did they know when they decided to participate in USAID’s Transforming Masculinities program that he would soon be sharing her burden and helping to fetch water.

Transforming Masculinities is an intervention that aims to reduce violence among couples and promote healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies. When a woman bears children too closely together, too early or too late in life, the health of the mother and baby are at risk.

Transforming Masculinities is an evidence-based approach to promote gender equality and positive masculinities within communities of faith. It is based upon the understanding that spiritual beliefs and faith leaders are part of the structure that shapes social and gender norms, and focuses on prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence.

Read the end to Elisée and Alain’s story.




USAID Podcasts

PODCAST –"Faith-based Organizations in Global Health"

A Conversation with Dr. Alma Crumm Golden, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health on the Role of Faith-based Organizations in Global Health.

Download a transcript of this podcast [PDF, 100KB].

Photograph of Alma Golden


GSK/Kellogg/USAID Global Health Case Competition

GSK/Kellogg/USAID Global Health Case Competition

USAID’s Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact is collaborating with GlaxoSmithKline and Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management on a global health case competition that looks to identify cutting-edge and sustainable solutions to global health challenges, helping build future generations of business leaders from Africa, Southeast Asia, the United States and Europe.  Learn more.


Johnson & Johnson Recognized for Work in MDR-TB

Photograph of bedaquiline bottles. Photo credit: USAID Kyrgyzstan

Photo credit: USAID Kyrgyzstan

Johnson & Johnson was recognized for their work in combating antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at the 2018 World Economic Forum. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is the largest contributor to AMR deaths. Johnson & Johnson’s bedaquiline is the first new drug in more than 40 years developed to fight MDR-TB. USAID and Johnson & Johnson are partners in the Bedaquiline Donation Program currently being accessed by 65 countries worldwide. Learn more.



March 18–20, 2018, Washington, D.C.
Nothing But Nets Leadership Summit

Photo of the group from the Nothing But Nets Leadership Summit.

One hundred fifty Nothing But Nets supporters will convene in the nation’s capital to attend master classes in how to become effective leaders and advocates on the topic of malaria in their own communities across the United States. The event is organized and hosted by the U.N. Foundation.


March 12–23, 2018, at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City
The Sixty-second Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Banner for the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women

This year’s session will focus on challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. Other important themes to be covered include participation in and access of women to the media and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women. A U.S. Government delegation will also be attending this global event.


March 22–23, 2018, Washington, D.C.
Digital Health U.S. Event: Annual DHIS 2 Symposium

Graphic for the DHIS 2 Symposium

DHIS 2 is a web-based, free and open source platform used in more than 60 countries. This event will examine how international partnerships are supporting national systems strengthening through technical support that improves the use of DHIS 2 and how this work is bringing us closer to harmonized data. Find out more about this event.



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