United Methodist Mission Agency Joins in Global Health Strategy to
Benefit Women, Children, and Youth
By Elliott Wright*
New York, NY, October 5, 2015—The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church is one of the earliest faith-based participants in Every Woman Every Child: The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health, an initiative of the United Nations.
“We were asked to apply and are gratified to be identified with Every Woman Every Child, which directly relates to the global health focus area of The United Methodist Church and to our emerging health emphasis, Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children,” said Thomas Kemper, chief executive of Global Ministries, in announcing the relationship.
“We pledge to the world to reach one million children with life-saving interventions between 2016 and 2020, and we are asking the 2016 United Methodist General Conference, which legislates for the church, to endorse the campaign,” Kemper said. The announcement came during the annual meeting of the directors of the global mission agency.
“We want governments, foundations, and corporations to know that physical, as well as spiritual and emotional health, are priorities for our church and has been for more than 250 years,” he said. “We stand ready to collaborate with a wide range of health agencies interested in providing preventive and palliative services in just, caring, humane ways.”
Global Health Unit Fosters Collaboration
Global Ministries this year reconstituted a distinct unit on global health that consolidates a number of existing programs, adds new staff, and widens health outreach. The renewed emphasis on health was inspired in part by the enthusiastic United Methodist response to Imagine No Malaria (http://imaginenomalaria.org/), a program through which the church worked through its own contacts and other partners in reducing deaths from malaria in Africa. For more information on the Every Woman Every Child campaign, see online: www.everywomaneverychild.org.
Dr. Olusimbo Ige, MD, director of the Global Ministries’ Global Health unit, strongly supports the church’s collaboration in initiatives such as Every Woman Every Child. “Efforts to help shape healthier and more prosperous communities by investing in child health demonstrate to the world that The United Methodist Church is committed to living up to the sacred duty and to ensure abundant health for all,” she said.
The mission agency is one of five initial faith participants in the UN program in the NGO (non-governmental organization) category. The others are World Vision International, IMA World Health, Buddhist Relief, and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation. Applications remain open.
Global Ministries is also one of more than 200 religious organizations endorsing A Promise Renewed, an interfaith commitment to combat preventable child deaths on a global scale. So far, 226 religious organizations have signed the pledge, which can be found online at http://apr.nationbuilder.com/interfaith_pledge.
Commitment to International Effort
Every Woman Every Child expands a UN program to improve the health of women and children, putting more emphasis on newborn infants, adolescents, and persons living in fragile and conflict settings.
The Global Ministries’ commitment says it will reach the goal of one million lifesaving interventions “by supporting efforts of faith-based partners in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Haiti, which are five of the priority countries for child health interventions.” One aim is a 25 percent reduction in child morbidity and mortality in the selected communities. In addition:
By 2020, the program aims to (1) provide mothers and households with the education and support needed to make their children thrive, (2) increase access to and utilization of 13 child survival commodities in targeted communities through a community driven model and (3) increase availability of diagnosis and treatment service for childhood killer diseases in targeted communities.
Global Ministries is committing $10 million in medications, supplies, and commodities to Abundant Living: Our Promise to Children, as well as volunteer time, and $30 million to faith-based partners working in rural and underserved communities.
Participants in the UN’s Every Woman Every Child effort make their own health program decisions and expend their own funds but report regularly to the international organization on their efforts. This reporting should help to promote collaboration in health services around the world.
Global Ministries has also launched a US-based effort to encourage and assist congregations to become actively involved in promoting healthy practices among their members and extending that concern into their larger communities.
*Elliott Wright is an information consultant working with the General Board of Global Ministries.