Faith, Health Collaboration & Leadership Development Program

Since Fall 2011, IHP has been working with colleagues at St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya to adapt The Institute for Public Health and Faith Collaborations.  In October 2013, this adaptation was completed and a new generation of community collaborations was launched through The Faith, Health Collaboration and Leadership Development Program.

Over the past eight months, nineteen individuals representing a spectrum of faith-based organizations, civil society organizations, and health facilities from Nakuru County have come together in four interdisciplinary teams.

A set of intensive workshops adapted from the Institute curriculum have offered them insights into the social factors that contributed to health disparities in general and stigma for those living with or at risk for HIV disease in particular. With this knowledge, each team has developed a community action plan to implement together in their home communities.

Such efforts can help lower barriers for treatment and support services for people who are HIV infected and encourage wider scale HIV testing in local communities.  This in turn helps strengthen mechanisms for referral into treatment for those who test HIV positive and retention in care for those who enroll into HIV primary care.  Referral and retention are key elements in helping people living with HIV to maintain their HIV medication regimens and this lower the likelihood of transmitting the virus to someone uninfected.

Religion has been used to justify HIV stigma and discrimination but it can also be an important source to challenge such stigma and discrimination.  The Leadership Development Program equips local leaders from faith-based, psychosocial, and clinical programs with the knowledge and with tangible, measurable activities to fight stigma and increase support services for those living with HIV.  This year marks the pilot phase of the Leadership Development Program.  IHP is already hard at work in collaboration with our colleagues in Kenya to expand the program to two other cities in Kenya next year and to lay the groundwork to replicate the program in two other countries.