In everything we do, we seek to serve the whole person: physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Whether addressing the needs of a vulnerable child, the challenges facing a family in poverty, or the issues preventing a community from thriving, we deal with specific problems with the understanding that each issue interacts with and impacts others. In this series, we focus on one specific facet of the complex challenges facing those in need around the world.
In seeking to help those in deepest need, few issues are more challenging than health and medical conditions. According to the World Health Organization, half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health services. In the developing world, the barriers to healthcare are discouraging. Availability of healthcare services is limited, physically reaching healthcare providers can be difficult, healthcare workers are inadequately trained, and the cost of medical services is very high. These barriers are intimidating–even for someone in good health.
Unfortunately, most of the world lives with these barriers. Almost 800 million people worldwide spend at least 10% of their household budget on healthcare for someone in their home. Caring for a sick child or loved one would motivate anyone to spend sacrificially to help them get well. This same dedication forces many people around the world to face tremendously hard decisions. In fact, for almost 100 million, those health expenses thrusting them into extreme poverty.
From our experiences in areas of deep need around the world, we understand that resolving health issues is critical for other services to be effective. The most thoughtful educational or vocational training programs will stall if students aren’t well enough to learn. Efforts to provide clean water and nutritious diet are also tightly interdependent with the medical issues in a home or community. This is why medical aid will always be an important component of the services we promote and advance through our work with local ministry partners around the world.
We believe medical aid for those in need should not only provide treatment, but also include disease prevention and health education. Treatment rightly focuses on existing conditions needing compassionate intervention. But sustained good health requires battling preventable diseases before they occur. Through healthcare education and sanitation best practices, we can promote the ongoing health of families and communities. We also believe in working closely with local ministry partners who best understand the needs of their own communities and the type of support that will be most effective. These partners are deeply rooted in their communities, providing a sustained support that is often key in tackling systemic underlying issues surrounding medical needs. Finally, for a thriving community, we believe it is critical to integrate medical aid efforts with other programs promoting educational, social, and spiritual well being.
These beliefs guide our three main approaches to medical aid. First, we provide ‘in-kind’ donations of medicines and medical supplies for those who may receive a medical exam or consultation only to find that the medicine they need is not available in their area or too expensive to purchase. Our local ministry partners help us identify essential medicines that are needed most, and Cross International does our best to solicit donations of those crucial supplies to provide to our local partners who serve the most vulnerable. These local partners may run medical clinics themselves, or they may provide them to regional medical network partners who also serve those who are in need. Second, when our ministry partners run medical clinics as part of their overall programming, we often support those operations. Many times, these services are not only for children in our partners’ care, but also for the community around them. Finally, as we support the vision and planning of other local partners, we encourage them to always consider medical aid and ministry in their scope. We help them understand the role of health-promoting services in their overall program success, and we help them navigate the process of assessing or developing this aspect of their ministries.
Medical aid challenges are broad-ranging and widespread, but the impact is as individual as every life that is changed through this work. As we advance services like these, we’re encouraged by the stories and faces of those children and families touched by a healing hand or strengthened by a life-giving medicine. Our goal of transformed lives is only possible when people are able to grow and thrive physically. If you haven’t yet joined us, we invite you to be a part of this exciting and meaningful partnership.