Seven African Medical Facilities
by: Stafford North | January 3, 2018
IHCF (International Health Care Foundation) African Christian Hospitals is the supporting / facilitating organization for seven medical mission points in Africa. For several years they have been involved with five works in West Africa, including three projects in Nigeria, and two in Ghana. Very recently, they have become involved in East Africa with two partnerships in Tanzania. These medical mission points care for about 100,000 patients each year.
In addition to the direct medical care offered through these facilities and programs, they also place a large importance on spiritual efforts. Each facility has at least one chaplain in addition to the Christian staff members. They offer encouragement, prayer, and Bible studies to those they serve. Also thousands of African language Bibles have been given to patients and their families.
The largest of the facilities, Nigerian Christian Hospital, is located near Aba, and was founded in 1965 as the fulfillment of the dreams of early missionaries from churches of Christ. Located in southwestern Nigeria, Dr. Henry Farrar was the founding doctor and served there for a long term. Dr. Bob Whitaker also served the hospital for many years. Through the years countless doctors, nurses, medical technologists, business people, skilled laborers, students, preachers, and others have served God at NCH. It continues to function as a training ground for young doctors and nurses, both Nigerian and expatriate. The government of Nigeria has approved the Hospital for both Family Practice and Obstetrical Training.
Currently, the hospital has 110 inpatient beds, 150 Nigerian workers, six full-time Nigerian physicians, two full-time chaplains, a housing compound, and serves more than 20,000 patients annually.
Palmer Memorial Hospital, named in honor of Dr. Lucian Palmer, a long-term missionary to Nigeria, is located in Akaw Ibom State. From 1986 to 1996, Palmer Memorial was operated as an out-patient clinic but then became a full-service hospital with twenty beds. It is a well-equipped smaller hospital located on a fifteen-acre compound complete with its own water supply, guest house, and residences for nurses and physicians. Since the surrounding area has no other medical care, this hospital serves a vital role in the health of many with its thirty Christian workers and a full-time chaplain who leads in dealing with the spiritual needs of the patients.
The Harper Christian Clinic is located in the Nigerian village of Owutu in Imo State. This recently constructed clinic is named for the late Jeremy Harper, a young man from Fort Smith, Arkansas, who was tragically killed. Family and friends decided to build this clinic in his memory. It has a 500 square foot outpatient clinic, self-contained power and water, medical living quarters. Local ministers serve the spiritual needs of the patients.
In addition to these three medical facilities in Nigeria, there are two in Ghana. The Kumasi Clinic was opened in 1987 and shares a big campus with Ghana Bible College and the large Bomso Church of Christ. It provides an outpatient clinic and has mobile clinics to serve remote villages. The Yendi Clinic serves as a medical missions point in an overwhelmingly Muslim area. Its all Ghanaian medical staff provides services including a wound care clinic and a medical ministry to prisoners. Both of these clinics also train health care workers who can promote health in their own villages. These two clinics also participate in village outreach programs with not only their mobile clinics but also with their immunization programs. A full-time evangelist works with both clinics both to comfort and to teach the gospel. Each year hundreds of people are taught and many give themselves to the Lord.
Another African medical facility is the Tanzania Christian Clinic which serves the Maasai tribe in northern Tanzania and is located not far from Mount Kilimanjaro. Begun in 2006, this facility has an outpatient clinic, provides emergency care, and has mobile clinics to serve villages in the area. They have an American doctor and an American nurse.
A second medical service in Tanzania is the Mwanza Area Community Health Project which works with a veteran missionary team to improve health care in the region. This service does not provide a clinic but, rather, is a community-based initiative which involves a Project Health Director who leads in providing resources and who oversees numerous volunteers to provide health care to the hundred villages in the targeted area. They seek to provide teaching to counter the culture of witchcraft among the people, and to mobilize local communities to take ownership of their own health needs. They also seek to help the local churches to use their opportunity to respond to the poor in their midst and, thus, to help village churches to grow.
IHCF also provides scholarships to native young people who are faithful Christians and who are seeking an education in some medical field.
IHCF African Christian Hospitals sponsors a Medical Missions Seminar each January held in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. This is the largest annual gathering of medical and health care professionals in our fellowship who share an interest in medical missions. The next seminar will be held on January 12 and 13, 2018, in Ft. Worth. All are welcome to attend. More information can be found at http://www.ihcf.net.
What good news that members of the church of Christ are active in using medical services both to help the medical needs of so many in various parts of Africa and to use these contacts as a way to teach the gospel. Just as Jesus used His power to heal as a way of reaching people with His message, so we can do the same today.
For more information about IHCF or to assist with their work, go to www.ihcf.net.