Meet AIM Grant Recipient: Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation

July 14, 2022

Earlier this year, Global Health Council awarded its first-ever Advocacy in Motion (AIM) Grants to five civil society organizations. These grants are intended to support advocacy, health equity, and amplify the voices of local and regional organizations. This month we are featuring one of our winners, Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation (CHRIFACAF).

Based in Nigeria, CHRIFACAF provides free healthcare and humanitarian services to rural communities, in partnership with local and international humanitarian service providers. We recently spoke with CHRIFACAF’s Campaign Manager, Clinton Ezeigwe, to learn more about the organization and its work.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your organization?

Gladly. Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation (CHRIFACAF) is a Nigerian non-profit organization that partners with service providers to demand better and improved health systems in rural communities and beyond. Our approach focuses on advocacy, research, and capacity-building for inclusive, responsive, accountable, and equitable delivery of health services and realization of access to safe water and sanitation.

The inclusive nature of our work allows us to advocate for a range of legislative and health issues. At any given time, we may be garnering political commitments, influencing governments’ COVID-19 responses, or supporting communities in claiming their water rights. We also advocate for stronger healthcare systems and increased investment in primary healthcare to ensure that facilities are adequately staffed and equipped with essential medicines.

Q: How has COVID impacted your organization and the communities it serves?

Pandemic lockdown policies created a huge gap between our organization and the rural communities we work with. We were unable to complete our major activities, even those related to COVID-19 awareness. One project we worked on early in the pandemic—which involved the installation of portable hand-washing stations—was met with apathy, and we could not continue. At the same time, community demands for basic necessities increased faster than we could procure the financial resources to meet them.

The pandemic also reduced CHRIFACAF’s workforce, because we were unable to pay staff salaries and support volunteers. We were forced to scale back our operations as we tried to adapt to the new normal. As a result, we were unable to meet our short-, medium-, and long-term goals. Other challenges during the pandemic included low staff productivity, increased internet costs due to our team working remotely, and many ongoing projects being put on hold with no funding to continue them.

Q: What is the biggest challenge your organization is facing today?

Our biggest challenge today is funding. We need funding to run our programs smoothly, repay debts acquired during the lockdown, and replace or upgrade our office equipment. Laptops, printers, a projector, and a generator have all broken down due to overuse during the lockdown.

Q: What are you doing to overcome these challenges? What help do you need to overcome them?

CHRIFACAF is currently searching for additional funders. We are also creating well-crafted proposals, investing in necessary capacity-building training, and maintaining good relationships with partners through collaboration, resource-sharing, and leveraging each other’s strengths. Additionally, we are embracing the use of new technology to aid our work—updating our website and embracing virtual meeting opportunities.

Additional funding is critical for us to be able to focus more on our goals and mission, recruit more staff, promote our activities, and build the capacity of our organization to deliver results.

Q: How are you hoping the AIM Grant will help your organization?

The AIM Grant will allow us to develop an advocacy plan focused on health equity, help pay for dedicated staff time, buy office equipment (such as a laptop and a printer), develop a robust and functional website for better visibility, and support travel and accommodations for our team and for participants attending our meetings.

The grant will also help CHRIFACAF target eligible voters in Nigeria in the upcoming elections. We want to ensure citizens use their ballots to demand health insurance for all. Using both traditional and online media advocacy as tools, our project will engage decision-makers and citizens to advocate for needed reforms, such as the National Health Insurance Scheme that promotes access to quality healthcare.

Q: What does “health equity” mean to you?

Health equity means access to quality healthcare services that are affordable, fair, and accessible to all—without discrimination of any kind and irrespective of one’s income level.

Q: What are some actionable steps you think global health decision-makers can take to increase health equity?

To sustainably increase health equity:

  • Governments should increase investments in training health professionals and building and equipping health facilities, especially in rural areas.
  • Governments should immediately address health disparities to ensure all people have an opportunity to live as healthy as possible.
  • Health insurance schemes should be designed for all categories of people, with no one left behind.
  • More incentives should be provided to professionals working in rural areas.
  • More scholarships or subsidized fees should be made available to health/medical students at higher-education institutions to encourage more applicants.
  • Governments should implement policies and systems to reduce inequities in access to quality healthcare, as well as eliminate unfair individual and institutional social conditions that fuel such inequities.

Q: What is the most important message you want to give to global health decision-makers?

My message to health decision-makers is to ensure healthcare delivery services are the first and top priority of governments. They should also ensure that there is adequate support for healthcare workers, as they are the first responders who ensure the resiliency and equity of healthcare systems.

The single most dangerous threat to achieving global health equity is corporate greed, especially by big pharmaceutical companies. It keeps life-saving medicines/drugs beyond the reach of poor people. It must stop.

Q: Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Yes. It must be noted that achieving health equity and Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria would save lives, reduce out-of-pocket healthcare costs, and help eliminate the health disparities that have persisted for generations.

My final message to health decision-makers is to recognize that strong, affordable, and quality health coverage for all categories of Nigerians is the key to progress, as well as a starting point to improving health outcomes and achieving Universal Health Coverage for all.