Study: Faith Partners Essential to AIDS Fight

Private institutions provide up to 40 percent of healthcare in poor countries, according to a recent systematic study of faith-based organizations.

Faith based organizations are "true partners" in the fight against HIV/AIDS, said Dr. Rabia Mathai on June 29 in Geneva. She spoke with members of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations at a discussion called "Faith in Action." The doctor is the senior vice-president for the Global Program Policy, of the US-based Catholic Medical Mission Board.

The systematic study of faith-based organizations (FBOs) was organized by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, according to Ecumenical News International.

"The global community is urgently seeking to identify all relevant partners," said Mathai.

"But the evidence-based body of knowledge on the role of FBOs in addressing HIV and AIDS has been limited. Faith-based organizations should be recognised as a special group."

Mathai explained that in India, members of the Roman Catholic Church India only make up 2 percent, or 20 million people in a nation of 1 billion. However, she noted that this small group made up that 26 percent of the nation's healthcare infrastructure.

In rural areas, Catholic healthcare facilities account for 85 percent of medical infrastructures, she said. In india, there are 5,000 Catholic healthcare facilities, which include 750 hospitals and 4,000 dispensaries and primary health centers.

She added that the church runs 114 nursing schools, 6 medical schools, and has 6000 sisters working as doctors in 47 dioceses.