The United Methodist in Zimbabwe has several mission centres and these centres are made up of units comprising the hospital/clinic, school, local church and in two of the big centres orphanage homes.

The health facilities, 15 in total, are made up of three (Nyadire, Old Mutare and Mutambara) mission hospitals and 12 rural health centres which were mostly established by the missionaries. The legacy set by these missionaries has been carried on by the USA annual conferences and they have now been dabbed “Connections”.

There is the Old Mutare Connection, Nyadire Connection and the Mutambara Connection. These are just church/congregations/individuals/annual conferences mostly in the USA and Norway for Mutambara who have continued to support the health ministry in Zimbabwe especially within the health facilities owned by the UMC.

One key component and impact of the General Board of Global Ministries’ Global Health Unit has been the setting up and supporting UMC African Health Boards, which are the annual conference appointed governing bodies that are charged with leading, developing, and implementing the health strategies in the various UMC annual conferences.

This is done through different programs to include regular training of UMC health boards in an effort to strengthen programming and UMC health-related programs in Africa.

In order to improve accountability, as well as cohesion amongst the health institutions and with our partners, in May 2010, the Zimbabwe Episcopal Health Board was set up. The board ensures that the UMC health institutions and other related programs provide holistic, affordable and accessible delivery of health care services throughout the Episcopal area.

The board comprehensively addresses malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, supports curative measures, educates, and runs prevention programmes as well as revitalizing health facilities and supporting human resource development.

The board is vital in developing and implementing the national health strategies including working in partnership with the Ministries of Health, GBGM Global Health Unit, United Methodist congregations, as well as local and international partners. In order to ensure diversity and a broad skills base, the board is composed of 15 members drawn from the following fraternities: medical , legal, business, project management, architecture , education and clergy.

Together the team ensures that the services offered by the Church are of the highest standard, run on business lines and address the Sustainable Development Goal 3:
• To promote maternal and child health
• To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB
• To alleviate Poverty
• To build a global partnership

“The Global Health Unit through its support of the board, has enabled the health board to make the church visible in a meaningful way in transforming and saving lives.”

Hannah Mafunda, Zimbabwe Episcopal Area health board coordinator

Global Health Unit Impact in the Health Ministry in Zimbabwe

Working in partnership with the board, the Global Health Unit has impacted the work of the health board tremendously through the following developmental programs:

  1. Imagine No Malaria
    • Community based programs and strengthening laboratories – three grants have been awarded to date and in one district where the board started implementing the program in training of community based health workers in malaria community case management, the workers are contributing 75% in testing and treating malaria at community level to the district population of over 210 000.
    • Nyadire hospital benefited chemistry and haematology analysers and this has improved patient management and treatment at the hospital. The machines have also boosted income for the hospital, generating income and coming in third compared to outpatients and pharmacy departments.
    • Old Mutare has also benefited a chemistry analyser in the 2015 INM grant and this will go a long way in improving patient care and income generating for the hospital.
  2. Maternal and Child Health
    • Revitalization of waiting mother shelters, and EPI (Expanded Programme on Immunization). Old Mutare Hospital benefited a better waiting shelter, more spacious compared to their old one under the INM current grant. The shelter accommodates up to 60 waiting pregnant women compared to the old one that accommodated only 12 women.
  3. Health Systems Strengthening (HSS)
    • Old Mutare Hospital has benefited laundry machines and this will go a long way in infection control as well as linen shortages for the more than 25 000 patients admitted at the hospital annually
    • Anoldine clinic waiting mother shelter was constructed under the 2015 HSS grant and this will go a long way in curbing maternal and neonatal deaths within the catchment area with a population of 4 500 people of which 21.9% are women of child-bearing age.

4. Global AIDS Fund
Trainings in home based care programmes, training of stigma index research assistants and training of trainers in integrating HIV into church programs. These programs were carried out and knowledge and information was given to both clergy and laity on effects of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV (PLHIV).

5. Water and sanitation
Provision of clean water to 32 000 people in three different community settings.

The Global Health Unit has:

  1. Made the board make the church leadership realize that the church can and should do more to transform people’s lives holistically.
  2. Enabled the board to build capacity of the church in report writing, monitor and evaluate programs, assess impact of programs
  3. Enabled the board to foster strong partnerships with Ministry of Health and Child Care – National Malaria Control Program, World Council of Churches and making the voice of the church be heard in health matters for the Zimbabwean people especially the rural communities.