Introducing International Health Services
This exhibition, first shown at Gallery 101 in May 2023, explores the work of Salvation Army health services around the world.
International Development Serivces (IDS) partners with Salvation Army territories and local corps (churches) across the world to help tackle poverty and challenge injustice through sustainable development, health and vulnerable children’s programmes and mission support projects.
In all our work we use an holistic approach to meet the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of those we work alongside.
As part of IDS, International Health Services supports and encourages the development of Christian health services throughout the world.
More than 130 years of Salvation Army Healthcare
For almost as long as The Salvation Army has existed, it has operated health services.
In the early days of The Salvation Army, there were many different health-related initiatives in the East End of London. Salvation Army midwives could be found in the refuges or ‘rescue homes’ where vulnerable pregnant women sought shelter and care. Other early programmes included ‘slum maternity work’ and district nursing. It was from these humble beginnings that a network of hospitals, clinics and community health programmes have evolved all over the world.
One of the first institutional health programmes is recorded as being in Nagercoil, India, where the first ‘missionary doctor’ and Salvation Army officer, Harry Andrews, established a small dispensary in his house in 1893. Andrews funded these services by providing high quality health care to a stream of paying patients, and this income subsidised treatment for all those unable to pay.
Doctors' rounds at the Catherine Booth Hospital, Nagercoil, India
Many Salvation Army hospitals and clinics around the world are still supported in a similar way and the legacy of this simple dispensary remains today.
On the same site in Nagercoil, The Salvation Army has an impressive and innovative general hospital which can cater for 115 inpatients and has a very busy outpatients department which sees on average around 140 patients daily. Attached to the hospital is a vibrant School of Nursing with 75 students and a College of Nursing with 200 students. The local Salvation Army corps (churches) also play an important role in these integrated health and education programmes.
WATCH: Hear from some of the team at the Catherine Booth Hospital in Nagercoil
Salvation Army Health Programmes Today
Across the world, The Salvation Army operates 26 hospitals and 132 clinics, from the Toronto Grace Health Centre in Canada to Howard Hospital in rural Zimbabwe.
Each health institution focuses on areas related to the local needs, offering a wide range of services including:
- Maternal and child health care
- Infectious diseases, such as malaria, cholera, bilharzia
- Detection and management of communicable disease, such as HIV and Aids, tuberculosis and leprosy
- Nutrition advice and management
- Detection, monitoring and management of non-communicable conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension
- Sexual and reproductive health
- Early detection and management of cancers
- Emergency care
- General surgery
- End-of-life care
- Mental health issues
A mobile clinic from The Salvation Army’s Harry Williams Hospital, which caters for communities in rural areas of Cochabamba, Bolivia
Salvation Army health institutions are often situated in hard-to-reach, rural areas where others are unable or unwilling to deliver health care. These hospitals or clinics are often the focal point of the community and offer a safe space and health care to people of all faiths or none, always serving patients without discrimination.
However, the pressures of finance when working with the poor, government regulations, lack of staff willing to serve in difficult areas and the increasing need for technology even in rural areas provide challenges to The Salvation Army’s health services in many settings where we work.
The Salvation Army’s health services are most effective, influential and sustainable when they link to health-related community development and corps-based programmes, which gives local people and communities the opportunity to participate. The Salvation Army has a strong focus on community health programmes and primary health care as close to the family as possible including supporting community health workers, mobile outreach clinics and disease prevention programmes.
Love and care at the Gatehospitalet street hospital in Oslo, Norway
The Salvation Army offers education programmes that equip health workers with appropriate skills and experience as well as developing commitment to holistic Christian health ministry.
Salvation Army nursing, midwifery and biomedical colleges around the world continue to share the lives, skills and passions of thousands of health workers worldwide. They also support national efforts to help reduce the shortage of health workers that many countries around the world experience.
For instance, due to a shortage of laboratory personnel across Zambia which severely hampered the treatment of people across the country, The Salvation Army’s Chikankata Mission Hospital opened a College of Biomedical Sciences.
The college started with 20 students and four repurposed hospital buildings. Such was the need for this institution, The Salvation Army has partnered with the government and other health care providers to develop a campus able to train more than 200 biomedical scientists each year. Once qualified, they are posted throughout Zambia. A day programme and subsidised fees ensure that the people around the rural area of Chikankata also have the opportunity to train in the college.
A student at the College of Biomedical Sciences at The Salvation Army’s Chikankata Mission Hospital in Zambia
Over the last three years, a major focus of Salvation Army hospitals, clinics and community health programmes has been responding to the needs and challenges of COVID-19.
The Evangeline Booth Hospital in Ahmednagar, India, treated the first COVID-19 patients in that district. At the peak of the pandemic, 170 people were being treated on a daily basis.
As well as being the only facility to continue to provide health services to its local catchment area, Andulia Clinic in Bangladesh conducted health awareness events and training amongst the community to help prevent COVID-19. These included targeted campaigns around hygiene, the importance of mask wearing and the need to isolate when COVID-19 positive.
The Urban Aid Clinic in Maamobi, a densely populated area of greater Accra, Ghana, became a focus point for the vaccination programme in that community. Thousands of people were contacted through door-to-door outreach and close to 15,000 people were vaccinated at the clinic.