An overlooked WWI legacy: maternal and child health in sub-Saharan Africa
— from the Lancet Global Health Blog, November 2014
While medical missions provided 25-50% of maternal and child health care in sub-Saharan Africa throughout most of the 20th century, their legacy is often overlooked.
Often incorporating local knowledge and culture, missionaries provided family-centered health care at the grassroots level—bringing services to sub-Saharan Africa while they were also on the rise in England, writes Chris Simms, assistant professor in the School of Health Administration at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
The risks of academics dismissing missionaries as an embarrassment and ignoring their achievements, Simms says, are “that lessons-to-be-learned are neither identified, nor acted upon, and that past mistakes will be repeated.”
Simms says, “Indeed, studies suggest that, rather than being a source of embarrassment, medical missions have shown what can be achieved when health initiatives are planned and implemented as if ordinary people mattered.”
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