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Study Reveals Faith-Based Organizations Crucial in the Fight Against AIDS

( [email protected] ) Jul 09, 2004 08:15 PM EDT

In preparation for the 15th International AIDS Conference, slated for July 11-14 in Thailand, the Global Health Council (GHC) conducted a comprehensive study on the role faith-based organizations (FBO) play in confronting the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Commissioned by the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), the “Faith in Action: Examining the Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Addressing HIV/AIDS” report revealed that faith-based groups did indeed contribute critical guidance and provisions in the fight against the fatal epidemic.

"In many parts of the world, faith-based organizations are in the forefront in the provision of care and treatment for the world's neediest. These preliminary findings provide perceptions of the role of FBOs in addressing the comprehensive and complex factors of the AIDS pandemic," said Dr. Nils Daulaire, president and CEO of the Global Health Council.

"The global health community's goal is to provide effective approaches to addressing HIV/AIDS; this report will contribute to an informed dialogue on AIDS policy that can lead to improved prevention, treatment and care initiatives by all faith-based organizations,” continued Dr. Daulaire.

GHC conducted the study in six key countries - Haiti, India, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda – all countries with widespread AIDS infection. Conclusively, the study found ways for FBOs to be more effective through collaborative or individual leadership, and revealed that most people in these six nations held the FBO’s works in high regards.

"Mosque, temple and church create a whole series of invaluable faith-based networks with extraordinary reach, most often enjoying profound trust among communities. These networks offer unmatched opportunities to disseminate key messages, reduce stigma and mobilize grassroots involvements in community preparedness, orphan care, palliative care, and in so many other ways," said John ("Jack") F. Galbraith, president and chief executive officer of CMMB. "These initial findings confirm that this important work is recognized by leaders as a key component in the global response to HIV/AIDS."

Generally, those outside the FBO circle felt FBOs were effective in providing more than just physical support; many whom were interviewed said these groups can provide “moral and compassionate support to the most vulnerable and disenfranchised.”

The final report will include more than 200 interviews from a wide range of key individuals representing “governments, donor agencies, research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, health care facilities, faith-based organizations and community-based organizations.”

The final report is scheduled for release by early 2005, but the preliminary report will be available at the AIDS conference in Thailand. For more information about this report or on the AIDS pandemic, please visit: www.globalhealth.org.

The Global Health Council is the world's largest membership alliance dedicated to saving lives by improving health throughout the world. The Council serves and represents thousands of public health professionals from 103 countries on six continents. Global Health Council members include nongovernmental organizations; policymakers and advocates; academic institutions; concerned citizens; corporations and foundations; government and multilateral agencies; and public health professionals.

Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) was founded in 1928 and is a leading U.S.-based Catholic charity focusing exclusively on international healthcare, particularly the well-being of women and children. CMMB works collaboratively to deliver solutions to the HIV/AIDS pandemic from Africa to Asia, treat tuberculosis in Zambia, and provide primary healthcare in Latin America and the Caribbean. Global initiatives include recruitment and placement of medical volunteers, medicine and medical supply shipments, emergency relief, and training grants.