IRHAP is an open international collaborative network working on faith/religion within health (and community) systems. It seeks to strengthen evidence on the functioning of religious health institutions and communities within their contextualized health systems, especially in development settings
Since the IRHAP collaborative was launched in 2002, the landscape of actors engaged in the intersection of religion and public health has grown significantly. IRHAP now loosely connects a large and diverse body of individuals and institutions from Africa, Asia, USA and Europe.
Within this group is a common commitment to altering the conditions, policies and practices that block the achievement of healthy people in healthy societies; a common hunch – that religious views, communities and institutions are an important but often poorly understood lever; and a conviction that an interdisciplinary collaborative enterprise is an essential requirement to that end.
This work openly faces into the sometimes harmful and unhealthy role of religious practices and interpretations in many contexts. An 'assets-based approach' seeks to assess what potential exists for strengthening systems and communities - without undermining the very things they offer or destroying them through inappropriate interventions or engagements.
IRHAP’s Guiding Assumptions
- That religious entities are widely present on the ground in many contexts where health crises are most urgent
- That no matter how impoverished or isolated such religious entities might be, they are important for achieving health gains
- That religious health assets are both tangible and intangible
- That they have a public impact on health (besides providing particular health services)
- That properly assessing and enhancing their potential will produce better alignment between public health interventions and the religious structures with which they might partner
- To strengthen evidence of religious health institutions, networks and communities
- To articulate conceptual frameworks, analytical tools, and measures that will adequately define and capture religious health assets from multiple perspectives, across geographic regions and different religions, in order to align and enhance the work of religious health leaders and public policy decision-makers in their collaborative efforts
- To support a loose open network of scholars, practitioners, religious as well as public health leaders
- To build capacity in future leaders of both public health and religious institutions
- To support 'translation' between different individuals and institutions
- To provide evidence to influence health policy and health resource allocation decisions made by governments, religious leadership, inter-governmental agencies and development agencies
- To disseminate and communicate results and learnings