267808 Intersection of public health with Christianity in a poor Malawi village: Wellness through taking care of the whole person

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Irene Lubker, MLS, MPH, RD , No Department, None, Glen Allen, VA
Issues: In a poor village in Malawi, Southern Africa, where survival is difficult, people lack clean water, medical facilities, food and education. Joy to the World (JTW) Ministries arose to respond to this need. These public health problems could be resolved by taking care of the whole person, body and spirit. JTW strives to take care of people's spirituality as well as providing public health services.

Description: JTW began in 2006 when a Malawian student studying in the USA pulled together Christians from various churches and sought donations to be used to carry out this humanitarian mission in the village of Dzuwa, Malawi. To accomplish this, JTW endeavored to provide as many services as possible. Services include, growing and preparation of healthy food, developing clinic facilities, providing spiritual services, developing school feeding programs, drilling wells for clean water, establishing microfinance grants, building grinding mills for corn, establishing a modest library and other services. All projects are carried out while preaching the word of God.

Results: Dzuwa village has access to basic public health services and spiritual care. There is a clinic that serves the village and other surrounding villages. A school feeding program has made it possible for an enrollment of 800 children, an increase from 500 children. Women do not have to walk more than ten miles to have corn ground into flour.

Lessons learned and future directions: Communication, faith and financial challenges have arisen. We plan to add a secondary school and also make JTW self-sustaining.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate how mixing faith and public health in a poor rural area can successfully take a population from a place of no hope to renewed hope where people have a decent chance to grow old.

Keywords: Maternal and Child Health, Faith Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am one of the directors of Joy to the World Ministries and I sit on the board of this ministry. I have first hand knowledge of the projects of Joy to the World Ministries and have visited the projects in Malawi. I am also a member of one of the churches that support the ministry. Last, I was born and raised in Malawi and I know the public health challenges there.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.