Improving the health of the People through Parish’s Grass Root Communities

The health problem in remote areas is difficult to solve, because of lack of transportation and lack of health personnel who are willing to work in the remote villages. The Catholic health units so far have not been able to provide health services to the parish people in the remote villages, due to lack of personnel and mostly also because of their curative and clinical orientation. The primary health care concept and social element in health concept is a good and very ideal, but hardly able to be carried out by the Catholic health units. The financial sustainability problem is also a dominant cause which hinders them from providing effective health service in the remote villages. The lack of funding from abroad, which before was abundant during the presence of missionaries from Europe, is also the reason why the work in the remote villages is not undertaken.

In such a situation, there has to be other strategies in the effort to improve the health of the people in remote villages. One of the efforts is to empower the parish’s grass root communities or Church community based groups (CCG), which usually are only active for religious activities such as praying, etc. Since some years ago, the Catholic Church in Indonesia, had launched the concept of Church Community based Group as a grass root organization to strengthen the solidarity among the parish’s grass root people and to strengthen the moral and spiritual life of the people.

The activities of the CCGs can be supplemented with health topic/ aspect, especially for improving the health of pregnant mothers and children under 5yrs old. The activities that could be added are:
Campaign for good nutrition for pregnant mothers
Campaign for basic immunization of children under 5yrs.
Campaign for Ante Natal care of pregnant mothers
Help in detecting high risk symptom in pregnant mothers
Help in detecting high risk symptom in sick children Under 5yrs.
Help in referral of high risk pregnant mothers or sick children under 5yrs. to the nearest hospital

For this purpose, the health units should collaborate with the parish priest, especially in motivating the groups and in training them on health aspects.

There are at least two dioceses (Merauke and Larantuka) that are currently trying to implement the integration of health aspect into the Church’s Community Based Groups, specifically for improving the health of pregnant mother and children under 5. We hope that support to this good effort should be extended to all areas/parishes. (FHG)