Friday, February 22, 2013

In Zimbabwe, a Noble Idea

Hannah Mafunda is coordinator of the Zimbabwe Annual Conference health board.
PHOTO CREDIT: Simon Mafunda
By Hannah Mafunda*

The United Methodist Church health board in Zimbabwe was established, and its 15 members trained by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), in 2010. 

It was founded at a time when most health facilities in Zimbabwe were unable to provide even basic services, a situation that continues today. It was also a time when annual conferences were growing more and more concerned over the state of the health institutions owned by the church, as the infrastructure was getting dilapidated and services were below standard. Like any other sub-Saharan African country, Zimbabwe faces great health challenges, including the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS and malaria. 

Through community-based programs, such as Imagine No Malaria, the Zimbabwe Annual Conference health board seeks to meet Zimbabweans’ primary health-care needs. The idea of the board is a noble one and without it, the church’s health institutions today would never run so smoothly nor be maintained so well. 
From inception, the health board has made significant strides in executing its mandate. It has created harmony between the church and its health institutions in terms of general operation. Problems are easily picked up and nipped in the bud. Frequent meetings ensure that information flows easily to and from where it is needed. 

The board also keeps the health institutions’ operations in check. Financial transparency and strategy formulation have been enhanced. Trainings on various health issues have been extended to the clergy to enable them to better help their congregations. 

The health board has oversight of three United Methodist hospitals: Nyadire Hospital in Mashonaland East Province, with six rural health facilities under its supervision; and in Manicaland Province, Mutambara Hospital and Old Mutare Hospital. Old Mutare has six rural health facilities under its supervision. The board’s primary task is to provide holistic, affordable and accessible health-care services through various programs to the communities that use these hospitals.

Meetings of the entire health board are held twice a year, but its executive committee convenes whenever necessary. The board has three functional committees: the executive committee, the finance committee, and the governance and nominating committee.

The health board works in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. It also works closely with UMCOR’s Zimbabwe field office, which was responsible for putting up water tanks at Nyadire Mission Center. Other partners include the Zimbabwe Association of Church-Related Hospitals (ZACH) of The United Methodist Church.

Your gift to Health Systems Strengthening, UMCOR Advance #982168 , supports UMCOR’s work to build up United Methodist health boards in Africa and ensure their independence.

*Hannah Mafunda is the coordinator of the Zimbabwe Annual Conference health board.

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