by Rick Santos, President and CEO, IMA World Health
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines “partner” as one associated with another, especially in an action.
In the last year, IMA World Health and its partners have certainly been engaged in action–so much so, that our programs have touched 46 million people around the globe. Yes, that’s right: 46 million people.
That’s a huge number that is only possible because of the commitment and investment of donors. It is only possible because of the dedication and diligence of our partners. We never go it alone. We engage Ministries of Health, community service and faith-based organizations, secular groups and other key stakeholders who share our vision of health, healing and well-being for all, and are willing to take action with us to realize it.
We celebrate our partners in this annual report because they are critical not only to our day-to-day work, but also to our belief that helping local organizations meet and master their own public health challenges is the most effective, sustainable and ethical way to achieve our common vision.
Our partners know their communities best. They intimately understand the needs of their people. They know the challenges that make health, healing and well-being for all elusive. In partnership, we discern and address those challenges. IMA shares its knowledge, expertise and resources. Our partners share their community understanding, experience, and relationships. Together, we create change that lasts well beyond our direct involvement.
We often describe our approach as capacity transfer or capacity building. What we’re really doing is joining our partners on their journey toward self-sustainability. Our partners learn from us the very best practices in public health, which they continue and build upon; and what we learn from them we pay forward to the next community we serve. Done correctly, what develops is a powerful cycle that creates momentum bigger than any single organization can achieve.
I hope you feel that momentum reflected in this annual report of our work—work you make possible. For that we are immensely grateful, and even honored to call you partners, too.
After 56 years, still powered by partnership
Partnership defines us
IMA World Health is a member organization, founded by partners in 1960 and still powered by partnership today. This year, IMA World Health worked with 45 different partners—including 12 faith-based organizations and 20 local groups—to meet our goals and pursue our common vision. IMA works with government entities, such as national and state ministries of health; churches, faith leaders and FBOs; Christian Health Associations in Africa; academic institutions; other international non-governmental organizations and community service organizations. As iron sharpens iron, so IMA and our partners strengthen each other to reach more people in need of health, healing and well-being.
Partnership expands our reach
This year, IMA projects reached 46 million people across six countries, tripling our impact from 2011 and equaling the populations of Washington, D.C., Maryland and California combined. Some beneficiaries attended prenatal care or safely delivered their babies; others received treatments for HIV or preventive drugs for neglected tropical diseases; some received critical health education or an insecticide-treated bed net as protection against malaria; still others received counseling in family planning or nutrition support. IMA programs provided emergency and preventive care, as well as integrated health services and targeted interventions—all thanks to teamwork and the sharing of resources between IMA and our partners.
Partnership amplifies our voice
IMA leads the We Will Speak Out U.S. coalition, which unites 19 faith-based member organizations and more than 25,000 individuals who have pledged to speak out against sexual and gender-based violence. This year, IMA and We Will Speak Out U.S. worked with the Science, Religion and Culture program at Harvard Divinity School to release “Interrogating the Silence,” a report highlighting the results of a qualitative study of seven Boston-area congregations examining the untapped potential, challenges and opportunities of faith communities to prevent and respond to SGBV. The coalition also hosted panels at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and the Sojourner’s Summit for Change on engaging male allies to end SGBV.
Partnership allows us to grow and adapt
This year, IMA launched two projects that represent exciting milestones. In Tanzania, the U.K. Department for International Development funded ASTUTE project addressing childhood stunting is the largest project IMA has led in Tanzania in our 20 years there. In Kenya, IMA is the primary implementer of the USAID-funded Afya Jijini project—representing our first USAID contract—which provides integrated health services in Nairobi City County. Each project is only as effective as the sum of its partners, and in these and other IMA projects, we are proud to work and grow alongside the best.
ACHAP: A partnership of partnerships
Demonstrating IMA’s model of partnership is the agency’s ardent support of the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform. ACHAP is an advocacy and networking organization made up of 34 Christian Health Associations and other church health networks in 28 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. CHAs have a long history of providing health care services to populations in need in developing countries, forming the integral link between the national Ministries of Health and faith-based health facilities. A partnership of partnerships, ACHAP was established through the inspiration and support of the World Council of Churches in 2007 with the goal of improving knowledge sharing and joint learning among CHAs, particularly through its technical working groups for human resources in health, advocacy and communications, and HIV and AIDS. ACHAP also advocates for the international recognition of FBOs’ significant contributions to health care in developing countries. Sharing similar goals, IMA has been working to support and strengthen ACHAP since its inception.
A USAID-supported peer educator teaches a group of children in Kenya.
Photo by Craig Thompson