World Health Crises Highlighted; Saved Lives Celebrated

Christian groups raised awareness on the importance of health and celebrated the lives saved through their ministries on World Health Day.

Every year on Apr. 7, thousands of events worldwide mark the significance of health for productive and happy lives. The theme this year was "Invest in Health, Build a Safer Future," which focused on the need to support ongoing health issues to create a better future.

According to the World Health Organization, one of the pressing health concerns is the severe shortage of health workers which is estimated to be four million. In Ethiopia, for example, there is one doctor for every 37,000 people, according to the British medical aid agency, Merlin. In the United Kingdom, in comparison, there is one doctor for every 434 people.

"The effect of such ratios means that millions of children die from preventable diseases, women risk death during childbirth, and elderly patients endure debilitating illnesses without treatment," said Carolyn Miller, chief executive of Merlin, in a statement.

Christian organizations have been stepping in and helping to meet the medical needs in many of these poor countries.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), for instance, is one of the only organizations working among the displaced population in western Azerbaijan where an estimated 1 million people have been displaced by the ongoing conflict. Some of the displaced have lived in the temporary shelter in the Khojali settlement, which UMCOR works in, for more than a decade. The homes are said to leak in the winter and are unventilated in the summer. UMCOR offers medicine, health kits, medical attention from doctors, and sewing kits among other needs to the 100 families living in the settlement.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), meanwhile, is working in South Sudan where decades of civil war have left hundreds of churches destroyed and devastated communities. CRS highlighted in its World Health Day report its new Keyala Healthcare Center which opened in November 2006. Sudanese who previously resorted to traditional healers or had to walk a day or more to the closest hospital are now able to seek treatment at the Center.

"Before this health center, I had a baby who was sick with malaria and went to a fortuneteller who gave me herbs. My baby passed away," said Rose, carrying her 10-month-old baby to the Center for malaria treatment, according to CRS. Rose said that her new baby, Sarfino, was already getting better from the treatment given to him at the Center.

Most patients are seen for malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and other respiratory infections. The pharmacy is stocked with medicine and vaccines and the center offers immunization services and health education free of charge to the community.

On World Health Day, the Keyala Healthcare Center highlighted that it has given treatment to more than 8,500 people and has helped build a better future for them.