December 1999

Consortium Supports International Missions

To extend their missions to provide health care to persons who are poor and in need around the world, eight Catholic health systems and organizations, including Catholic Health Initiatives, have banded together as the Catholic Consortium for International Health Service. The members of the consortium have agreed to collaborate and support each other in providing health care assistance in third world countries. "The consortium’s goal is to build healthy communities internationally, particularly in regions of the world that don’t have many resources," said Peggy Egan, OSF, vice president of mission integration for Catholic Health Initiatives. "It took some time for this organization to get started, but now many exciting things are happening." One of the consortium’s first projects was to survey its members about the relief work they and their sponsors have already undertaken in third-world countries. The responses have been compiled in a new directory, which will be distributed to mission leaders at Catholic Health Initiatives’ market-based organizations within the next few months. "This directory will allow anyone within Catholic Health Initiatives who is interested in international mission work to see which health systems or congregations are already working in a given area," said Sister Peggy. "There is a lot going on in international mission work, but efforts are not always well coordinated between organizations. We believe this directory will provide connections that will help all of us do a better job while conserving resources." Sister Peggy stresses that the consortium is a networking organization intended to strengthen the international missions of its participants through collaboration and sharing. Its objectives include:
  • Emergency Response: Collaborate with existing relief agencies to support their response efforts to natural disasters, civil strife and wars in the most coordinated and effective manner possible.
  • Advocacy: Discuss issues that affect health care internationally and concur on positions and actions, if any, which the members of the consortium should undertake either as a whole or independently.
  • Development of Guidelines: Develop and make available guidelines that can be utilized to resolve challenges faced in the international health arena.
  • Sharing of Resources: Share resources, experiences and expertise with one another and other interested organizations or individuals to positively influence the international work of others.
  • Education: Disseminate information regarding ongoing and emergent health care needs around the world, and encourage the commitment of individuals and organizations to respond to those needs.
Representatives of each member organization meet each month via telephone and will meet in person in January for a planning session. "The consortium has applied for some alternative funding and may start a loan program for organizations that perform international relief work," said Sister Peggy. "We would also like to initiate a pilot program to link hospitals and clinics in the third world with some of the hospitals in our member systems. This program would promote long-term mutual learning relationships that would benefit us all." Members of Catholic Consortium for International Health Service Catholic Health East, Newtown Square, Pa. Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, Colo. Catholic Health Partners, Toledo, Ohio Catholic Medical Mission Board, New York, N.Y. Catholic Relief Services, Baltimore, Md. Daughters of Charity National Health System, St. Louis, Mo. Mercy Health Services, Farmington Hills, Mich. Sisters of Providence Health System, Seattle, Wash.