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Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health$
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Ellen L. Idler

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199362202

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199362202.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 September 2021

The Christian Medical Commission and the World Health Organization

The Christian Medical Commission and the World Health Organization

(p.298) 21 The Christian Medical Commission and the World Health Organization
Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health

Matthew Bersagel Braley

Oxford University Press

This chapter recounts developments in mid-twentieth-century Protestant theology and their impact on the World Health Organization (WHO). The World Council of Churches’ Christian Medical Commission (CMC) held two conferences in the 1960s to examine the role of the church in providing health care through medical missions. What followed was a theologically informed shift from hospital-based tertiary care in cities, many in post-colonial settings, to primary care delivery in rural as well as urban communities. A close relationship between the leaders of the CMC and the WHO facilitated a parallel and equally radical shift in the WHO’s strategy, from a vertical or top–down, focus on single diseases to the 1978 Declaration of Alma-Ata, which focused on primary care. The chapter argues that both the WHO and the CMC saw primary care as a more just and egalitarian way to distribute their resources and bring health to all.

Keywords:   United Nations, World Health Organization, World Council of Churches, Christian Medical Commission, Declaration of Alma-Ata, primary care, postcolonial, medical missions

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