The role of faith based organizations in global health programmes in Cameroon

How and why do global health donors engage with faith-based organizations to implement projects? In this Global Health Unpacked seminar, Sibylle Herzig van Wees will analyze the modalities and implications of donor engagement of faith-based organization in the health sector in Cameroon.

Over the past decade, donors have engaged Christian faith-based organisations (FBOs) in health system reforms and health programmes in numerous sub-Saharan African countries. They enjoy a good reputation for the assumed quality of care they can provide, their ability to reach the poor, and their market share in health systems. However, little knowledge is available concerning the process and implications of donor engagement of FBOs.

This research uses a qualitative case study approach to describe and analyse the reasons, processes, and implications of donor engagement of FBOs in the health sector in Cameroon.

The study shows that FBO engagement by donors has often been done with many assumptions about their faith attributes, their role in the health system, their relationship with the state, and their capabilities. Donor’s flawed assumptions have had negative ramifications for the equity and quality of health care provision in Cameroon.

The paper argues that although many donors have embraced FBOs, the evidence suggests that controversies regarding the relationship between religion and gender, and the relationship between FBOs and the state still matter. This work provides a non-instrumental perspective, which includes the views of FBOs of their various engagements; it shows that the role of the donors in shaping these organisations and their relationships is core to furthering our knowledge about FBOs.

Sibylle Herzig van Wees (PhD), Senior Lecturer Global Health, Uppsala University (Sweden)

About Sibylle Herzig van Wees

Sibylle Herzig van Wees (PhD) is a senior global health lecturer at Uppsala University. She is a social scientist and global health educator with degrees in Social Anthropology, Development Studies, Public Health and Pedagogy in Higher Education from UK Universities. Sibylle Herzig van Wees has worked on global health projects in Nepal, Mozambique, Somaliland and Cameroon, and as a global health educator at King's College London. As senior lecturer, she currently teaches qualitative methods courses and a course titled Global Health Politics.


A light refreshment will be served, please register:

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About this seminar

Global Health Unpacked” is a seminar series that aims to bring together the global health community on a regular basis to critically discuss key debates in Global Health in informal and interactive seminars. Guest speakers (both from the University of Oslo and from other universities) will bring an original perspective to the topic and engage in a conversation with the audience.

With this forum, we also hope to facilitate exchanges and collaborations between global health researchers and students present in Oslo and foster interdisciplinary research. “Global Health Unpacked” is jointly organized by the research group Global Health Politics, Centre for Development and the EnvironmentUiO Centre for Global Health.


Published Jan. 15, 2020 10:05 AM - Last modified Oct. 6, 2020 1:38 PM