About 40% of healthcare services are provided by Faith Based Organizations (FBOs). This is according to the Kenya demographics health survey. FBOs are brought together nationally by the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK), established in 1946. CHAK is a national faith-based organization of the Protestant Churches’ health institutions and programs from all of Kenya.
CHAK exists to facilitate the provision of quality health services through health systems strengthening, innovative health programs, training, advocacy, and partnerships as a witness to the healing ministry of Christ.
During the launch of their strategic plan for the next 5 years, the general secretary, Dr. Samuel Mwenda said, “We are in this space as an obedience to the great commission. It’s part of ministering to people, empowering them but also meeting their social and physical needs.”
Faith based health facilities are in the remotest areas of Kenya where people have least access to health services. According to Dr. Mwenda, it’s because they are driven by love and compassion and not business.
CHAK has 587 members – 33 hospitals, 125 health centers, 318 dispensaries, 27 community based healthcare programs, 68 churches and church organizations, 16 medical training colleges and universities, and 50 church denominations affiliations.
These facilities champion services in emerging areas like mental health, rehabilitation for drug and substance abuse and support to gender based violence survivors. CHAK also champions universal health coverage for indigents, at the most affordable rates.
FBOs have demonstrated long-term commitment and gained trust from local communities. The faith sector provides spiritual counsel and support, and in some parts of the country are the only or the main providers of primary healthcare at the grassroots in line with the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.
“Today, the leading provider of Open Heart surgery for children and adults in Kenya is Tenwek mission hospital, a faith based facility. And it’s highly affordable compared to the market rate,” said Dr. Mwenda.
CHAK has launched a new Strategic Plan 2023 – 2028 whose theme is; “Promoting access to quality health services delivered through resilient health systems” And the vision is “Quality healthcare for all to the glory of God” The strategic objectives towards building resilience for quality health services are; Health service delivery, Health systems strengthening, Advocacy, partnerships and networking, Sustainable financing and resource management, Strategic information management, and Branding, marketing and communication.
On the motivation behind the work of CHAK, Dr. Mwenda says:
“Jesus commissioned us to go out and teach, preach and heal. We are all gifted differently and can serve in different places. When it comes to health, we are the feet of Jesus on the ground. We are exposed to many things. We dare to face whatever it is because we know we’re serving an important mission and trust that God will provide and take care of us.”