“Belief in action sums up The Salvation for me,” says Major Dean Pallant, Salvation Army International Health Services Coordinator. “In 117 countries worldwide, The Salvation Army is a significant participant in providing high quality primary health care, giving priority to poor and marginalized members of society.”
Primary health care is the first level of contact you have with the health care system. This basic level of health care consists of education, prevention, treatment and care. These are key to transforming the lives of people living in poverty.
“One of the fastest growing Salvation Army centres in the world is Papua New Guinea,” says Major Pallant. “Most of the population live in remote areas surrounded by mountains and rolling foothills. It is difficult to build roads. This makes access to health care very difficult. Hence, 80 percent of the health care in Papua New Guinea is delivered by the church. Wherever The Salvation Army has a church, there is a health post next to it.
Since The Salvation Army was established in Papua New Guinea, in 1956, it has built trust within communities. This gives the organization opportunity to make a difference. As it relates to primary health care, The Salvation Army trains community health care workers for two years in issues such as the importance of clean water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS prevention, safe delivery for expectant moms and distribution of effective medication for pneumonia, malaria and TB. Workers are government endorsed and are saving lives every day.
In 2009 the World Health Organization is emphasizing the importance of primary health care. This is a shift from focusing on certain diseases. The goal is to provide health care for all at a cost that the community and country can afford.
The Salvation Army is also committed to improving and developing primary health care services. “One of biggest challenges is that good primary health care is not cheap,” says Major Pallant. “We want to provide it for the poorest of people. This means The Salvation Army subsidizes the work.
“We give a basic package of care that provides for all, irrespective of peoples faith, denomination, gender, race or age. If everybody had access to basic health care we would see a very powerful transformation for poor people.”